In the next instalment of his NRL Recruitment Watch series, NICK TEDESCHI looks at who Wests Tigers are chasing, who they should be going after, and the areas on the roster that need shoring up for 2018.
Needs: The Wests Tigers are in total rebuild mode after their two best players, James Tedesco and Aaron Woods, signed elsewhere for next year and five-eighth Mitchell Moses jumped ship in May.
Coach Ivan Cleary came onboard mid-season after Jason Taylor’s axing and is keen to overturn the talent at the club. He didn’t have much choice with his stars but he is willing to let nearly every other starter move on.
No club has more signings so far for next season. The Tigers have their halves pairing with Josh Reynolds joining Luke Brooks, and they have bolstered their front-row stocks impressively, but the club will be looking for talent across the park.
The Tigers desperately need a fullback but it seems likely they think mid-season acquisition Tui Lolohea is their man. Three-quarters and backrowers will be high priorities.
“It’s all about ending the year knowing that we tried our best and finished the season strong.” 👍 — Tui Lolohea pic.twitter.com/FlgpAIR1PN
— Wests Tigers (@WestsTigers) August 2, 2017
2018 Recruits: Josh Reynolds, Ben Matulino, Russell Packer, Mahe Fonua, Corey Thompson, Chris McQueen, Taane Milne
2018 Losses: James Tedesco, Aaron Woods, Ava Seumanufagai, Matt Ballin, Jordan Rankin
Off-Contract: Elijah Taylor, Kevin Naiqama, Jamal Idris, Tim Grant, Joel Edwards, Jack Littlejohn, Kyle Lovett, Justin Hunt
Rumours: There has been some speculation that Canterbury’s salary cap woes could see Aaron Woods stay at the Tigers but that seems highly unlikely.
One free agent the Tigers desperately want to keep is the valuable and versatile Elijah Taylor, but he continues to be linked to a return to the Warriors.
The Tigers have tried to prise Clint Gutherson from Parramatta but they are no chance. Penrith front-rower Leilani Latu has been linked to a move to the club, while Robbie Rochow – currently at Melbourne after starting the year with Souths – is expected to sign.
— NRL News (@NRLNEWS) July 30, 2017
Players to Target: The Tigers should be doing all they can to keep Elijah Taylor, and if the Bulldogs are forced to relinquish Woods then they Tigers should re-sign him.
Robbie Rochow would be an excellent signing. The club has no depth in the halves so a dream return for club icon Benji Marshall would not be the worst move for the Tigers if they could get him cheap.
Tyrone Phillips is an unheralded Bulldogs outside back who would improve away from Des Hasler. Kalifa Faifai-Loa is a first-grader and could add more to the Tigers than some of their horrid outside back signings.
— Rugby League (@RugbyLeagueFeed) August 3, 2017