Club Previews – Wests Tigers

Many had predicted the Wests Tigers to be one of the easy beats in 2018; however, under Ivan Cleary they proved to be one of the more difficult opponents and eventually finished an unlucky 9th come the end of the season.

Enter 2019 and the bells of change have been tolled at Leichhardt / Campbelltown with Ivan Cleary choosing not to stay on the bus, but rather take the first stop at the foot of the mountains. In comes, premiership-winning coach, Michael Maguire and I think it’s fair to say that the Tigers have found a more than handy replacement for the outgoing 2018 coach.

The outgoings whilst looking heavy are thankfully more about quantity than quality. As for the ins, Ryan Matterson and Paul Momirovski will add immediately to the first-grade side, while Zane Musgrove adds further depth to an already strong forward pack.

The continued development of Luke Brooks, who had a career-best season in 2018, will go a long way to determining the success of the club in 2019. His likely halves partner Josh Reynolds will be looking to prove himself after a very disappointing 2018 season that was largely ruined through injury.

Whilst a finals spot looks a tad optimistic at this stage they should continue to be a tough side to play against particularly given they have such a demanding taskmaster now in charge. Reports are that pre-season training has been both relentless and demanding under the new coach, but this regime delivered a long-awaited premiership to South Sydney, so there is a method to the madness.

 

Check out all our pre-season content below:

2019 Players of Interest: Read all of these here

2019 SuperCoach Club Previews: Read all of these here

 

GAINS & LOSSES

Gains: Oliver Clark (Penrith Panthers, 2020), Ryan Matterson (Sydney Roosters, 2021), Paul Momirovski (Sydney Roosters, 2020), Zane Musgrove (South Sydney Rabbitohs, 2021)

Losses: JJ Collins (Canberra Raiders), Pita Godinet (released), Tim Grant (Penrith Panthers), Tuimoala Lolohea (Leeds Rhinos), Matt McIlwrick (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Taane Milne (released), Kevin Naiqama (St Helens RLFC), Bayley Sironen (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Sauaso Sue (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers

 

LIKELY STARTING 17

1.Moses Mbye 2. Corey Thompson 3. Paul Momirovski* 4. Esan Matsters 5. David Nofoaluma 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Robbie Farah 10. Ben Matulino 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Matthew Eisenhuth 14. Jacob Liddle / Benji Marshall 15. Alex Twal 16. Elijah Taylor 17. Michael Chee-Kam / Thomas Mikaele

* The starting centre spot appears of much conjecture and uncertainty at this stage. Benji Marshall has been training here during the pre-season and may be a surprise inclusion. In addition to this, Mahe Fonua is the incumbent and will be pushing hard for this starting spot.

 

DRAW ANALYSIS

They face just two of last years final eight in the first two months of the season, with games against the Warriors and Broncos. From then on it gets tough, with a stretch of games including the Roosters, Panthers, Storm, and Souths before the bye. However, with games against the Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Eels and Titans, it shapes as a pretty comfortable opening start to the 2019 season for the Wests Tigers.

 

NRLSCTalk Mega Guide is now available for purchase. For just $12.99 you receive over 130 pages of detailed analysis on every club and player listed in the club. Click on the below image to buy your copy now. 

Below we have provided in the individual player grades as per our 2019 Mega Guide

Buy your copy here.

GUNS

ESAN MARSTERS: (Price: $568,500, Position: CTW, 2018 Average: 60.8)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – A

What a season it was for Esan Marsters. The star centre played every game for the Tigers after just 13 in 2017. He produced a career-best average of 61 PPG, which saw him ranked as 4th overall for CTW’s and 3rd overall in total points scored. Goal-kicking duties provided him with an additional 9 PPG, whilst an incredible 33 BPPG saw him effectively score over 40 PPG just by stepping onto the field. With just three tries to his name in 2018, there’s even the possibility of upside for him this year. He’s expensive but perhaps shapes as one of the more reliable CTW selections given the high base and goal-kicking duties. This is of course unless Moses Mbye takes over the goal-kicking duties at some point, which would decrease his value significantly.

RYAN MATTERSON: (Price: $521,500, Position: 2RF, 2018 Average: 55.7)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – B

Ryan Matterson has transferred from the Roosters to the Tigers and will be looking to cement himself as a starting edge forward in 2019. In 11 games last year where he played more than 60 minutes on the edge he produced an average of 67 PPG, which represents an increase of 11 PPG on his overall season average and thus he has a nice discount in his starting price. He has lost the dual position flexibility, which makes him somewhat less attractive, but assuming he does play more than 60 MPG at the Tigers then he is still a tantalising proposition and in 2018 there were only four other 2RF’s that averaged over 67 PPG. A big watch for 2019.

 

SLEEPERS

DAVID NOFOALUMA: (Price: $483,500, Position: CTW, 2018 Average: 51.7)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – B

David Nofoaluma produced his worst SuperCoach season since 2015 with his average falling by over 10 PPG from 2017 and 8 PPG from 2016. Whilst his base output remained largely stable at 30 BPPG, he produced 1 less tackle-break and almost 1 less line-break per game. In 2017 he averaged 8 PPG from line-breaks compared to just 3.9 PPG in 2018. His pedigree suggests that there is value in his starting price and if he cements a position in the 17 under the new coach then he could be one of the better buys in the CTW position.

ALEX TWAL: (Price: $402,800, Position: FRF, 2018 Average: 43)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – B

2018 was the year in which Alex Twal cemented himself as a first-grade footballer, playing 21 games for the Tigers at an average of 43 PPG. With an impressive historic work-rate hovering around 1.15 PPM, he has the game that is suited for SuperCoach but requires an increase from the 37 MPG that he averaged in 2018. Disappointingly, his PPM did drop away slightly in games where he played over 40 MPG with his PPM rate falling to an average of 1.03 PPM across six games. On the plus side, he’s produced fantastic stats with increased minutes during the World Cup, his base output is great at over 1 BPPM and he possesses the shape and size to produce an effective offload. In fact, he produced just 0.6 PPG from offloads in 2018 – an output that he will need to improve on dramatically to become relevant this year. With the likes of Ben Matulino and Russell Packer in the squad, minutes could be hard to come by this season in the Tigers front-row – but perhaps a move to the back-row is possible?

 

BUSTS

ROBBIE FARAH: (Price: $581,800, Position: HOK, 2018 Average: 62.2)

Robbie Farah re-joined the Wests Tigers mid-way through 2018, playing as the starting hooker from Round 16 onwards. The 35-year-old veteran is set to go around for one more year and on his return to the Tigers, Farah was quite impressive from a SuperCoach perspective, averaging 60 PPG and in the four games that he played the full 80 minutes, he averaged 79 PPG. Unfortunately, this is probably not a fair expectation for him this year as it’s likely that the Tigers will run with a bench utility in the likes of Jacob Liddle or even Benji Marshall. Farah may find himself coming off the bench at some stage and Elijah Taylor can also play a role from the bench if needed

2019 Mega Guide Rating – C

ELIJAH TAYLOR: (Price: $435,600, Position: 2FR/HOK, 2018 Average: 46.6)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – C

Elijah Taylor has always been a base stat star, but that’s about where it ends. History suggests that unless he is playing in excess of 70 MPG, he is not SuperCoach relevant. In 2017, he played over 70 minutes on 11 occasions to average 61 PPG; however, in 2018 he played over 70 minutes in just five games at an average of 54 PPG. With Ryan Matterson joining the club this year to play alongside Chris Lawrence and Matthew Eisenhuth emerging as an option at lock it’s unlikely that Taylor exceeds much more than his average MPG from 2018 of 62. Therefore, we can’t set him being overly relevant this year.

COREY THOMPSON: (Price: $413,600, Position: CTW/FLB, 2018 Average: 44.2)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – D

Corey Thompson had a solid first year at the Tigers in 2018 playing 20 games (9 at fullback and 11 on the wing) to finish with a season average of 44 PPG. This included an impressive opening ten-game stretch where he averaged 53 PPG playing primarily as a winger. Unfortunately, it appears that he may not get to play in either the fullback or wing position this year as long as the likes of Moses Mbye, David Nofoaluma, Paul Momirovski and Mahe Fonua are fit.

BEN MATULINO: (Price: $388,100, Position: FRF, 2018 Average: 41.5)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – C

2018 wasn’t quite the SuperCoach season that many were expecting from Ben Matulino with the prop averaging just 41 PPG at 0.97 PPM. This work-rate was the worst that he’s produced over the past five years. His minutes also didn’t receive the expected spike at the Tigers with a season average of 43 MPG compared to as high as 58 MPG in 2015. The emergence of Alex Twal could see Matulino lose his starting spot and therefore any dramatic improvement from 2018 doesn’t appear likely.

JACOB LIDDLE: (Price: $218,100, Position: CTW, 2018 Average: 23.3)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – D

Much like the dramas at the Melbourne Storm with the Brandon Smith / Cameron Smith issue, Jacob Liddle faces another long year warming the bench with the 35-year-old former captain, Robbie Farah, likely to be the sides starting hooker. Priced at $218k he would scream “buy me” if he was the main man, but until Farah is gone, he’s not going to be SuperCoach relevant.

 

ROOKIES

PAUL MOMIROVSKI: (Price: $238,600, Position: CTW, 2018 Average: 51)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – B

Paul Momirovski has transferred from the Roosters where he made his first-grade debut in 2018. He played just the one regular season game last year, producing 51 points in 80 minutes at centre with one try scored. He also featured for the Roosters in their Preliminary Final win over Souths and once again scored a try. Unfortunately, due to his performance in the regular season, he has been handed a price tag of $239k to start the season and therefore does not start rookie priced. He will be fighting for a spot in the starting 17 against the likes of Esan Marsters, Mahe Fonua, Corey Thompson, Chris McQueen, and David Nofoaluma. He’s a player to monitor over the pre-season and if selected in the Round 1 side he will obviously need to be considered depending on the available rookies.

THOMAS MIKAELE: (Price: $168,100, Position: FRF, 2018 Average: N/a)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – B

Thomas Mikaele is yet to make his NRL debut and spent 2018 with the Development Squad. He has been promoted to the first-grade squad in 2019 and is thus eligible for selection. At just 21 he is very young, but there are big wraps on the kid, making him one to watch this year. He could very well find himself named on the bench early on.

DYLAN SMITH: (Price: $168,100, Position: FLB, 2018 Average: N/a)

2019 Mega Guide Rating – C

Dylan Smith is yet to make his NRL debut but only turns 20 this year. He has joined the first-grade squad this year and will be looking to push Moses Mbye and Corey Thompson for the fullback spot. He’s a prospect that many Wests Tigers fans are excited about this year and therefore one to watch this pre-season.

 

Check out all of our other 2019 Club Previews below: 

Brisbane Broncos 

Penrith Panthers

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Cronulla Sharks

Melbourne Storm

North Queensland Cowboys

Manly Sea Eagles

Canberra Raiders 

WeninRome

Wenin is one of the founding fathers of the NRLSCTalk website who's Tuesday Teams Analysis has been a feature post on the site for close to a decade. He also loves a good steak bet!

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    MyYfH8sSCJarvie wall bangersBTDamien CookedThe Myth Recent comment authors
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    TurkeySnow
    Member
    Gun

    Great write up as it stands not one Tiger in my side, mervoski could be decent but with Bird and CNK likely safer options around the same price are ahead for me.

    Eisenhuth played an av 59min last year for 54pts would need to see min 60min at lock IMO, at his price I see better value in Lane if he can secure 60min on an edge.

    OnTheBus
    Member
    Gun

    Nice write up , it will be interesting to see how madge picks his side . Almost tempted to pick reynolds marsters and nofo early on

    marmalade
    Member
    Keeper
    marmalade

    Great read, Marsters in my CTW currently, haven’t thought about the prospect of him NOT goal kicking…. Mbye has a poor kicking record from memory so hopefully the status quo remains. There does appear to be a small risk with Momirovski with a couple of other suitors for the role.

    The Myth
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    Gun
    The Myth

    Good write up.

    Very keen on Nofo but don’t have him in at the moment.

    Damien Cooked
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    Gun
    Damien Cooked

    really like a nofo/fonua type option for the first 6 weeks looking at the draw

    BT
    Member
    Gun
    BT

    Cheers Wenin. Marsters straight back into my side after last years service. Not really looking at any other Tigers.

    Jarvie wall bangers
    Member
    Sleeper
    Jarvie wall bangers

    Anyone thinking Mbye could stand up with the captain role or should i just take my tigers glasses off ?

    MyYfH8sSC
    Member
    Gun
    MyYfH8sSC

    Take the rose coloured glasses off!