It has been another difficult week for the poor old Wests Tigers.
A 24-12 loss to a severely undermanned Storm outfit was made all the worse by continued criticism due to mind boggling off-field decisions.
Despite not winning a game of NRL football in the number seven since August 14, 2021 Luke Brooks has again proven he is immune to being dropped. This despite urgent cries from a fan base desperate for a fresh start.
Almost comically the Tigers were then linked to 33-year-old Mitchell Pearce, with reports indicating the struggling club were willing to outlay up to $1.5 million over two seasons.
With the greatest of respects to the former premiership winner, Pearce's best days are behind him. Newcastle allowed him to walk away despite not having a ready made replacement. This says it all.
The move was described as 'stinks of desperation' by NRL360 host Paul Kent.
It's not often that I rush to support a Paul Kent opinion but you could certainly add desperate to the list of adjectives I'd use to describe the link.
I'd also add silly, misguided and nonsensical.
This is not even meant to be a shot at Mitchell Pearce but it is absolutely designed to be a shot at the Tigers management.
They proved they had no Plan B should the multi-million dollar chase of Mitch Moses fail, which it did.
In fact I don't think they have a plan at all.
In the proceeding months they moved on Jackson Hastings to be replaced by Adam Doueihi. The same Adam Doueihi who has been moved to fullback within a month of the season starting.
Brandon Wakeham is two games into his Tigers career. I'd argue that his short time in the halfback jersey saw the Tigers play their best footy of the season.
Of course he has been moved to the unfamiliar six role since said moments of brief brilliance as the side's first receiver.
Despite a clear lack of a plan to turn the club's decade sans Final's footy around, one thing has become very apparent recently; the Tigers need to stop looking for a quick fix.
Throwing a reported $1.4 million a year at Mitch Moses. Considering a 33 year-old halfback at huge money. I'm counting down the moments until a million dollar offer lands for Jack Wighton.
I fully understand the appeal of big name signings but hey have to be the right signings. Not for 2023 and 2024 but long-term.
Tigers fans won't want to hear it but I'm sure they'll have no issue agreeing, this is not a side set up to win the title in the next two seasons.
Every move Tim Sheens makes from this moment should be geared toward handing over the very best side possible to Benji Marshall in 2025.
Sheens appointed himself in the coaching role two mentor Benji Marshall before handing over the reigns. Two seasons to set the club up so that the club legend can oversee the next decade of success.
Apisai Koroisau and Isaiah Papali'i aside, the club is in no better position now than it was this time last year.
Signing a 30-year-old half on a million dollars is nothing more than window dressing.
Invest that money elsewhere and target a return to Finals in 2025. I'm not writing off 2024 yet but a loss this weekend and the Tigers are almost out of contention for 2023.
"Well what is the fix then Mr smart guy?" I hear from the comments. Very good question.
Stefano Utoikamanu (22), Isaiah Papali'i (24), Asu Kepaoa (23), Junior Tupou (20), and Justin Matamua (19). There are your five players you lock down to long-term deals. All five players must be named, injury aside, in every game this season.
Obviously Klemmer, Bateman and Koroisau are your stars while I'd rush Joe Ofahengaue back into the line-up. Those four feature and guide the side. All four should be mentoring the five aforementioned players wherever possible.
You move on from Luke Brooks. A Dally M player of the year award from six years only carries so much good faith. Justin Pascoe the CEO should also be packing his bags.
Wakeham and Doueihi are your halves until you can convince the Sharks to release Braydon Trindall. Tom Dearden is off-contract at the end of 2024. His agent should know of your interest right now.
Sean O'Sullivan was the play for 2023 but Wayne Bennett wasn't going to let the best halfback not to have a regular NRL gig of 2022 to slip through his fingers.
If you don't see what you want in Daine Laurie then let him go to the Eels and find your long-term fullback. Not a stopgap moved from the halves or a winger desperate to play fullback.
Of course there are big name signings that would help right away. If Joey Manu starts making noise that he wants out then of course the Tigers should move heaven and earth to get him.
Right now though the Tigers should be scouting generation next in the NSW Cup and Flegg. I don't want to give them ideas but I can name five players from top tier NSW Cup sides that would walk into the Tigers current back line.
Ok recruitment may be hard if you're obviously building for the future but the Tigers need to fill their roster with players who want to be there in the long-term.
Every single move the Tigers need to make from this very second needs to be with Benji Marshall's 2025 season and beyond in mind.
Not signing a big name halfback from the past who may win you a game or two now. Not making decisions that seem to be only in attempts to justify past decisions.
There is no quick fix here.
Dan, I think this a very thoughtful and insightful take (aside from using ‘reigns’ which means ‘to rule’ instead of ‘reins’, a metaphor for horse’s reins to indicate providing direction, a mistake I see a lot on this site – but I digress). The club have tried quick fix after quick fix and nothing is sticking. The only player who looks consistently dangerous is Api but he has few taking the heat off him. They need to pay more than lip service to the ‘five year plan’ and take their time rebuilding around the pillars you mentioned. Penrith’s five-year plan took ten, but it was worth the wait for them. The Tigers need to do likewise – and it starts at board level.
Bit snide, that Tom.
Dan doesn’t use “wrap” for “rap”; a far more egregious and common error on social media, so we can nod that odd mistake through.
Ah, if only I could, Harry…
Also, kudos for working ‘egregious’ into your comment. I approve.
Quite right about Wests’ strange mixture of “short-term” quick hits (do you remember they took Harry Grant on loan in 2020?) and persistence with players like Luke Brooks and Alex Twal, who have promised so much but who have not managed to deliver.
Seriously? Are you only new to the country, we have been in the crapper for over a decade, we are way past looking for quick fixes.
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