This will be the last of the Wests Tigers Review placed on this site as there is now a brilliant set up at http://www.weststigersforum.com/
With the Wests Tigers trial games about to start on the weekend I thought it was time to look back on 2009
2009 proved to be yet another heart breaking season for the Wests Tigers, as once again the team just missed out on making the top 8 and semi-final football. Before a ball had been kicked this season though, most critics thought the Tigers would battle to avoid the wooden spoon, with only one major new signing in Gareth Ellis joining the club. For the Wests Tigers fans though, we were slightly more optimistic about the Tigers chances this year but we were under no illusions that if the Tigers were to make the 8, then key personnel would need to remain injury free and play well all season. As usual though, injuries did play their part yet again, but so too did team selections, which left many fans frustrated each week when various players were picked to play out of position in key areas, namely fullback, stand off and halfback.
Having said that though, the Tigers were competitive in pretty much every game this season, showing a new found mental strength which had not been present in seasons past. Unfortunately execution let the Tigers down on a few occasions, in attack and defence, and a number of close losses mid-season badly affected the Tigers chances of making the 8. We did see several players make their first grade debuts this season and it is clear that there is some promising emerging talent pushing through the Tigers ranks which leaves myself, and a few others optimistic that 2010 could be the year where we see the Tigers make a serious push up the ladder, if the players continue to improve of course.
I thought I would take this chance though, to give my thoughts on each Tigers player to play first grade this season, and there were 29 players in total, so grab a coffee or something to eat, and feel free to read on…
1. Blake Ayshford – 2009 saw the debut of Ayshford, a former Roosters player who had come across to the Tigers in search of an opportunity. Well he certainly got one and didn’t waste it. Despite having a disrupted off-season in which Blake had wrist surgery and could not do any weights on his lanky frame, Ayshford slotted into first grade with relative ease, and showed deceptive strength despite his lean build, which bodes well for the future when he can get stuck into the weights. Blake made his debut against the Broncos in round 11 and did not miss another game for the remainder of the season. Blake predominantly played in the centres but also had a couple of games at 5/8 as well as on the wing to conclude the season due to injuries striking down the Tigers starting wingers. While not an outright speedster, Ayshford found open space a few times and also scored a few good tries. The Tigers right hand side defence also tightened up noticeably when Ayshford started playing. He possesses an uncanny ability to poke his head and arms through the line which suggests with the bit more size and speed work, he could prove a damaging centre next season if left there. Tigers coaching staff have also mentioned Blake could end up at lock, but personally I would like to see him start next season in the centres and go from there. With a level and calm head on his shoulders, Ayshford was one of the highlights for the Tigers this season.
Games played: 15 Tries: 8 Goals: 0 Points scored: 32 Average minutes played: 77.9 Linebreaks: 11 Linebreak assists: 1 Try Assists: 3
Average metres gained: 82.8 Average tackles per game: 14.6 Average missed tackles per game: 3 Offloads for season: 13 Tackle breaks: 46 Errors: 12
2. Dean Collis – 2009 could only be described as disappointing for Wests junior Dean Collis, as his season was hampered by poor confidence and form and ultimately injury, as he was taken down hard by Tigers team mate Dene Halatau in a wrestling match at training which saw Collis break his arm. A junior with an abundance of talent, Collis was one of the unfulfilled talents at the Wests Tigers which sadly, never kicked on to bigger and better things. Injuries have played their part in holding Collis back, as he has had numerous problems with his hamstrings and ankle. The highlight of Collis season was definitely his game against the Newcastle Knights at Campbelltown Stadium where he picked up a hattrick. Sadly that was as good as it got for Dean as he was injured shortly after. 2009 was an important season for Collis as he was off-contract, and despite the Tigers making him an offer, he chose to join the Cronulla Sharks in a move designed to hopefully re-ignite his career under Ricky Stuart.
Games played: 11 Tries: 4 Goals: 0 Points scored: 16 Average minutes played: 78.3 Linebreaks: 4 Linebreak assists: 3 Try Assists: 3
Average metres gained: 63.5 Average tackles per game: 11.3 Average missed tackles per game: 1.7 Offloads for season: 1 Tackle breaks: 17 Errors: 8
3. Simon Dwyer – 2009 saw the debut of talented backrower Simon Dwyer, a member of the talented Tigers Toyota Cup squad. Used as wide running backrower in the Toyota Cup, the 6″4, 102kg Dwyer is blessed with the ability to break the line and offload at will, often putting his outside men away into open spaces. Dwyer also scored a few tries himself in the Toyota Cup and his consistent good form saw him rewarded with two starts off the interchange bench in FG. While Dwyer was not given a great deal of gametime, he is a player to watch and will surely press for a spot on the interchange bench in 2010. He possesses decent speed and runs good lines, and training with the top squad in the off-season will only benefit him. I expect he will be working very closely with Gareth Ellis and Chris Heighington in the off-season on developing his game.
Games played: 2 Tries: 0 Goals: 0 Points scored: 0 Average minutes played: 21.5 Linebreaks: 0 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 26.5 Average tackles per game: 11.5 Average missed tackles per game: 1.5 Offloads for season: 0 Tackle breaks: 1 Errors: 0
4. Gareth Ellis – Ellis enjoyed an excellent first season in the NRL and was probably the Tigers best forward week-in, week-out. He came to the NRL with a question mark over his head as to whether he would be able to adapt and have an impact but Ellis soon silenced his critics with consistent 80 minute performances which consisted of strong ball running and hard hitting in defence. There were even a couple of Tigers supporters who labelled Ellis a ‘pillow’, but if you ask anyone who ran into Ellis’s shoulder, they will tell you otherwise. Ellis only disruption during the season was a broken thumb which saw him miss a a couple of weeks but otherwise he was one of the Tigers best this season and will no doubt look to improve next season.
Games played: 22 Tries: 0 Goals: 0 Points scored: 0 Average minutes played: 79.2 Linebreaks: 3 Linebreak assists: 4 Try Assists: 1
Average metres gained: 104.2 Average tackles per game: 27.6 Average missed tackles per game: 3 Offloads for season: 22 Tackle breaks: 46 Errors: 12
5. Robbie Farah – Farah would look back on 2009 and no doubt consider it mixed. By his own standards, he was very good but his running game was negated by the referees on quite a few occasions where he would scoot out of dummyhalf to catch the markers offside, only for the refs to not rule them offside. This didn’t stop Robbie from finally being picked in the NSW Origin side. While NSW lost the seriest 2-1, Farah had a solid first game, followed by a terrible second game, which ultimately saw him dropped to make way for Herman Munster…otherwise known as Michael Ennis. Farah was disappointed but bounced back well with some very good club form. As a captain, Farah led the Tigers well and was regularly one of the Tigers best. His short kicking game proved valuable throughout the season and he also landed a couple of 40/20 kicks. There’s still work to do though as Farah put several kicks out on the full towards the seasons end. Otherwise Farah proved vital to the Tigers in 2009, as his stats reflect.
Games played: 21 Tries: 8 Field Goals: 4 Points scored: 36 Average minutes played: 76.7 Linebreaks: 11 Linebreak assists: 19 Try Assists: 22 Kick metres: 223.5
Average metres gained: 77.5 Average tackles per game: 34.9 Average missed tackles per game: 2.4 Offloads for season: 33 Tackle breaks: 71 Errors: 30
6. Danny Galea – Galea entered 2009 desperately hoping he would get through the season injury free, as the last 2 years had not been kind to Danny, culminating in a season ending torn achilles in 2008. Galea missed the season opener but did return for round 2. Throughout the season he was used mainly off the bench as an interchange backrower. While there was no doubting Galea’s ability to hit hard in defence, his attack was nullified somewhat by having to make hit ups expected from a prop, and at 98kg, Galea was punching above his weight. In the second half of the season we saw Danny promoted to the starting side and his gametime was increased, and he looked a lot better for it. While not a flashy player, Galea is one of those players who gets in and does the dirty work and is a very solid defender in the ruck, and just wide of the ruck. Off contract this year, there were many Tigers fans calling for Galea to be re-signed, but as things currently stand, it looks like he has been released from the Tigers.
Games played: 20 Tries: 1 Goals: 0 Points scored: 4 Average minutes played: 44.7 Linebreaks: 3 Linebreak assists: 1 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 48.75 Average tackles per game: 21.4 Average missed tackles per game: 2.1 Offloads for season: 6 Tackle breaks: 16 Errors: 4
7. Shannon Gallant – Local Magpie and a favorite among Tigers supporters, Mighty Mouse was often discussed on the forums, but not often played, in FG anyway. While he is one of the smallest players in the NRL, there is no doubt that Mighty Mouse has one of the biggest hearts, regularly putting his body on the line and doing his best to lift his team mates. It was during a State Cup match against the Central Coast Storm at Campbelltown where I saw Mighty Mouse make the best try saving tackle I have ever witnessed. It should never have been made but somehow he made it, typifying the fight he has in him. Gallant had a couple of games in FG during the first half of the season but did not excel and was then relegated back to State Cup. He received a call-up to FG in the second half of the season when Coach Sheens finally bit the bullet and moved Tim Moltzen to half. With the new look combinations in the Tigers backline, all of a sudden the Tigers looked a far more potent attacking outfit and Gallant came up with several solid games before breaking his leg against the Roosters, ending his season. Many people believed Gallant had done enough to earn himself a fulltime contract with the Tigers for 2010, and he verbally agreed to a new deal but with the Cowboys Matt Bowen facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines, Gallant was offered a far better deal, which he accepted after the Tigers allowed him to leave. Mighty Mouse will be missed but the Tigers have some decent prospects in the fullback position.
Games played: 7 Tries: 2 Goals: 2 Points scored: 12 Average minutes played: 72 Linebreaks: 5 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 1
Average metres gained: 100.8 Average tackles per game: 3 Average missed tackles per game: 1.7 Offloads for season: 1 Tackle breaks: 30 Errors: 4
8. Keith Galloway – Just like 2008, Galloway’s season was plagued by injury in a very cruel twist of fate as the big fella represented City and was looking good to make his debut for NSW in Origin before he suffered a nasty knee injury against Souths. This kept him sidelined for half the season and it was no coincidence the Tigers lost a lot of games during this period and their go forward suffered noticeably. When fit and on the field KG was a force to be reckoned with, with his strong running and hard hitting in defence making him a handful for any side. All we can hope for in 2010 is for Keith to stay injury free, as he has SOO written all over him and is one of the Tigers best players.
Games played: 15 Tries: 1 Goals: 0 Points scored: 4 Average minutes played: 43.3 Linebreaks: 0 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 105.8 Average tackles per game: 15.9 Average missed tackles per game: 1.2 Offloads for season: 10 Tackle breaks: 18 Errors: 7
9. Bryce Gibbs – In previous season Gibbs has copped his fair share of criticism on the forum. The guy can defend well, no argument there, but what has let him down is his discipline, with Gibbs often giving away at least 1 penalty per game, sometimes more. The other area where he has struggled in seasons past is his go forward. A 107kg front rower should be able to bend the opposition line. Thankfully Gibbs finally learnt how to use his legs when hitting the line and his go forward was much improved this season, much to my surprise. Unfortunately he still gave away silly penalties. Unfortunately for Gibbs and the Tigers, his season came to an end early, not through injury but suspension, as he was rubbed out for 3 weeks after dropping the knees into Luke Burt as he scored a try. Here’s hoping Gibbs can continue to improve his go forward but cut out the silly penalties next season.
Games played: 21 Tries: 0 Goals: 0 Points scored: 0 Average minutes played: 53.4 Linebreaks: 1 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 103.3 Average tackles per game: 24.1 Average missed tackles per game: 1.3 Offloads for season: 17 Tackle breaks: 21 Errors: 12
10. David Gower – One of BRETs most consistent players this season, Gower made his debut in round 26 against the Bulldogs, a match which the Tigers won convincingly. Gower only played 19 minutes and with the emerging talent coming through the Tigers Toyota Cup squad, it’s hard to tell where Gower’s future lies. I think he could definitely handle FG, but the Tigers are not short on backrowers so Gower has plenty of competition for a spot in FG next season.
11. Dene Halatau – A Balmain junior and Kiwi international, Halatau had a disappointing season. He has carried the utility tag for a few seasons now and whether this has contributed to his lack of development, I don’t know, but once again this season we saw Halatau in the centres, second row, lock and sometimes at dummyhalf. The weak points of Halatau’s game is his defence, which at times was simply not FG standard, and his lack of vision. Dene does not possess a passing game as such, and while he certainly runs the ball straight and hard, this can often be to the detriment of the player outside him. 2009 is Halatau’s last at the Tigers as the Bulldogs have now snapped him up for the next 3 seasons. Nothing against the guy personally, he’s a lovely bloke, but he won’t be missed on the field.
Games played: 18 Tries: 2 Goals: 0 Points scored: 8 Average minutes played: 52 Linebreaks: 2 Linebreak assists: 2 Try Assists: 1
Average metres gained: 68.1 Average tackles per game: 21.8 Average missed tackles per game: 1.6 Offloads for season: 4 Tackle breaks: 17 Errors: 9
12. Rhys Hanbury – Used predominantly as an interchange backline player, Hanbury had limited opportunities to impress this season. He was unable to cement a permanent spot in the top 17 but had a decent dig when given a go. He’s a handy backup player when it comes to fullback, centre and wing.
Games played: 15 Tries: 4 Goals: 0 Points scored: 16 Average minutes played: 40.1 Linebreaks: 34 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 54 Average tackles per game: 6.5 Average missed tackles per game: 1.6 Offloads for season: 5 Tackle breaks: 33 Errors: 7
13. Chris Heighington – After enjoying career best form throughout 2008, a lot was expected of Rhino this season, as many thought he might take the next step in rep football and give SOO a shake after being told early on this year that he was being looked at by Craig Bellamy. Unfortunately for Rhino, he never recaptured his form from 2008, suffering numerous injuries and not breaking the line like he did last year in attack. Don’t get me wrong, Rhino was by no means poor, but his go-forward was not as effective while his defence was sound. Rhino looked to be getting back into some sort of form with a solid game against the Bulldogs to finish the season and he’ll no doubt be looking to improve in 2010.
Games played: 18 Tries: 0 Goals: 0 Points scored: 0 Average minutes played: 65.6 Linebreaks: 2 Linebreak assists: 1 Try Assists: 1
Average metres gained: 104.7 Average tackles per game: 26.8 Average missed tackles per game: 2.3 Offloads for season: 22 Tackle breaks: 37 Errors: 11
14. Daine Laurie – The Predator…where to start really? The big unit burst onto the scene last year from obscurity and threw himself into the thick of it in the NRL. Despite being as raw as Sushi, there is a fair bit of talent in Laurie, and a lot of us thought he might start to fulfill that potential this season. Sadly it wasn’t to be, as the Predator has a disrupted offseason and then suffered a close loss in his family at the start of the season which set him back further. When he did play, it was hit and miss, with the occasional good run brought undone by a penalty given away. Laurie can certainly iron players out though and jolt the ball loose, but he is still too raw and Sheens relegated him to State Cup for most of the season as Daine earnt his wrath by missing training. After being talked up by Sheens as being a superstar in 2010, it remains to be seen just what Laurie can make of himself, if he remains at the Tigers that is. There is talk that he wants out but the Tigers are apparently keen to hang onto him and develop him into a wide running backrower.
Games played: 10 Tries: 0 Goals: 0 Points scored: 0 Average minutes played: 29.2 Linebreaks: 0 Linebreak assists: 2 Try Assists: 1
Average metres gained: 61.5 Average tackles per game: 11 Average missed tackles per game: 2.2 Offloads for season: 5 Tackle breaks: 12 Errors: 6
15. Chris Lawrence – A superstar in development. Lawrence was heading towards rep football this season, being selected for City and being touted as a possible Blue in SOO before injury struck. Suffering an ankle injury, Lawrence missed a few games this season and injured his hamstring later in the season, battling his way through as best he could. He formed a lethal combination with TNT with his lethal pace and ability to put TNT away proving very dangerous. In defence Lawrence has really picked his game up, now regularly crunching the opposition. Unfortunately he was not given a great deal of ball to work with this season, but on the rare occasions where he did get plenty of ball, he looked dangerous. Hopefully 2010 sees Lawrence injury free and playing some rep football.
Games played: 18 Tries: 7 Goals: 0 Points scored: 28 Average minutes played: 79.1 Linebreaks: 12 Linebreak assists: 9 Try Assists: 7
Average metres gained: 81.7 Average tackles per game: 18.8 Average missed tackles per game: 2 Offloads for season: 7 Tackle breaks: 33 Errors: 8
16. Robert Lui – A superstar in the making perhaps? A bit too soon to tell, but there’s no denying Lui is a talent. He played most of 2009 in the Tigers Toyota Cup squad at stand off, and was voted best stand off in the Toyota Cup. Blessed with excellent ball skills, a decent kicking game and an uncanny ability to put a player into a hole, Lui was regularly running havoc against the opposition in the Toyota Cup before being promoted to halfback in FG late in the season. While he didn’t stand out, he held his own, with defence his major issue at this stage. At 19, Lui is sure to become a better defender with more work. At 92kg he’s no midget and he also has decent speed and very good footwork. Odds are we’ll see a lot more of Lui in FG next season.
Games played: 3 Tries: 0 Goals: 0 Points scored: 0 Average minutes played: Linebreaks: 2 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 1
Average metres gained: 85.6 Average tackles per game: 15.6 Average missed tackles per game: 4 Offloads for season: 1 Tackle breaks: 13 Errors: 3
17. Benji Marshall – Marshall’s first half of the season was hit and miss, after enduring a shift to halfback at the start of this season. The pressure looked to get the better of Marshall at times, with the occasional brilliant pieces of play being undone by brain melts which consisted of passes aimed at spectators heads. While this left many fans frustrated, one thing was apparent, Marshall was injury free and it was just a matter of time before some much needed consistency was acheived in his game. The plan to keep Benji at 7 changed in the second half of the season, with Sheens opting to move Tim Moltzen to half and putting the number 6 jersey back on Benji. When all was said and done though, the only thing that changed was the number on his back. Defensively he has improved and his kicking game at times was good, but like Farah it needs work. Benji enjoyed a fine second half to the season and he turned on some absolutely miraculous plays that only he could pull off. In the end he was one of the Tigers best without question, as his stats show.
Games played: 23 Tries: 8 Goals: 69 Points scored: 170 Average minutes played: 79.5 Linebreaks: 10 Linebreak assists: 26 Try Assists: 24 Kick metres: 250
Average metres gained: 76.5 Average tackles per game: 9.5 Average missed tackles per game: 2 Offloads for season: 24 Tackle breaks: 71 Errors: 35
18. Willie Mataka – Another FG debutant for 2009, Mataka was a member of the Tigers under 20 squad from last season while this season saw the powerfully built backrower turn out for BRET in the State Cup. Mataka was not given many opportunities this season, but what I saw of him, I liked. He has good leg speed and runs good lines and looks a likely player of the future IMO. I’m not sure what the status of his contract is for next season, but I hope he is in the Tigers plans.
Games played: 4 Tries: 1 Goals: 0 Points scored: 4 Average minutes played: 20.5 Linebreaks: 1 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 38 Average tackles per game: 10.7 Average missed tackles per game: 1.75 Offloads for season: 0 Tackle breaks: 6 Errors: 2
19. Shannon McDonnell – 2009 saw the mid-season departure of McDonnell, and it’s fair to say that he wasn’t missed after struggling to make a regular impression in FG.
Games played: 9 Tries: 1 Goals: 0 Points scored: 4 Average minutes played: 64.4 Linebreaks: 3 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 1
Average metres gained: 95 Average tackles per game: 4.7 Average missed tackles per game: 1.25 Offloads for season: 2 Tackle breaks: 38 Errors: 5
20. Tim Moltzen – Arguably the Tigers most improved in 2009, Moltzen was another of the Tigers emerging talents make his mark on the game. Played mainly at fullback, Moltzen left many questioning the decision as he would regularly offload to either of his wingers instead of hitting the ball up himself. Moltzen did suffer a dislocated elbow early in the season, whether he fully recovered from this, I’m not sure. Moltzen’s positioning at the back wasn’t bad, but if he’s to remain a fullback long-term, then he’ll need to work on this. His support play was quite good though, and his speed is also a good asset. A brief shift to halfback late in the season saw Moltzen look far more comfortable, as his footwork saw him beat the line on more than one occasion and his passing game helped relieve the pressure on Marshall. 2010 should be an interesting season for Moltzen. Will he remain fullback or will Sheens move him to halfback? 2009 was certainly a good year for Tim though.
Games played: 22 Tries: 12 Goals: 0 Points scored: 48 Average minutes played: 76 Linebreaks: 18 Linebreak assists: 7 Try Assists: 9
Average metres gained: 83 Average tackles per game: 7.7 Average missed tackles per game: 2.3 Offloads for season: 14 Tackle breaks: 76 Errors: 29
21. John Morris – Poor old Johnny has copped a lot of criticism on here, but was it always his fault? Coach Sheens has played Morris at half for far too long, and this is where the criticism stems from. Morris isn’t a halfback, and this isn’t his fault, he just shouldn’t have been selected there so often. What Morris is though, is a decent 14, offering good utility value off the bench, mainly at 9, but he was also used in the centres, stannd off and on the wing. This season was Morris’ last in Tigers colours as he is off to Cronulla next season. If I’m going to be critical, I’ll say his kicking game is poor, so too his passing game as he has murdered many an overlap. His defence is very good though.
Games played: 24 Tries: 5 Goals: 0 Points scored: 20 Average minutes played: 65.3 Linebreaks: 6 Linebreak assists: 2 Try Assists: 4
Average metres gained: 57.8 Average tackles per game: 23 Average missed tackles per game: 1.8 Offloads for season: 4 Tackle breaks: 41 Errors: 13
22. Corey Payne – Another Tiger often criticised, rightly so in many regards as Payne came to the Tigers on good money but often lacked impact. His defence was usually good, as he has the ability to pull off a good shot or two, but his running game is pretty ordinary and he was often stopped in his tracks. Another ill-feature of Payne’s game is his discipline, like Gibbs he would regularly give away a penalty. As a result, Payne has found himself in a similar position to Danny Galea, and that is currently without a club for next season, as the Tigers have let him go.
Games played: 22 Tries: 2 Goals: 0 Points scored: 8 Average minutes played: 40 Linebreaks: 2 Linebreak assists: 4 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 54.3 Average tackles per game: 17.5 Average missed tackles per game: 1.7 Offloads for season: 15 Tackle breaks: 12 Errors: 6
23. Todd Payten – Payten endured a slow start to the season and copped a bit of criticism for lacking in the go-forward department. Built like a Humvee, one would not assume that Payten is more renowned for his ball playing than he is for denting the opposition line in attack, but he is, so there you have it. Todd did pick up his go forward late in the season though which was good to see, but it was sorely missed during the first half of the season when Galloway was injured. No dramas with his defence though as Todd regularly comes up with important tackles and is very good one-on-one with the opposition. He was steady without being great this season.
Games played: 24 Tries: 2 Goals: 0 Points scored: 8 Average minutes played: 52.4 Linebreaks: 1 Linebreak assists: 5 Try Assists: 2
Average metres gained: 78.6 Average tackles per game: 23.4 Average missed tackles per game: 2.1 Offloads for season: 24 Tackle breaks: 27 Errors: 16
24. Beau Ryan – Often maligned due to his lack of outright pace on the wing, Ryan had a decent 2009 but did come under fire on a few occasions for not putting his body on the line (Cowboys at Townsville) and his impersonations of Dr Zoidberg (running sideways like a crab). Ryan kept at it though and as the season went, he improved a bit. Safe under the high ball and a decent defender, Ryan was solid without being great and looks to have a bit of competition for his wing spot next season.
Games played: 22 Tries: 13 Goals: 0 Points scored: 52 Average minutes played: 79 Linebreaks: 8 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 2
Average metres gained: 89.7 Average tackles per game: 5 Average missed tackles per game: 1.1 Offloads for season: 5 Tackle breaks: 83 Errors: 18
25. Alan Schirnack – Another of BRETs stars, Schirnack got his chance in FG when injuries hit the Tigers forward pack yet again. A front rower, Schirnack is not particularly big at 103kg, built more like a hard working backrower. He’s certainly a no-frills type of player who may figure in FG next season. It will be interesting to see how he goes with a full off-season with the top squad.
Games played: 5 Tries: 0 Goals: 0 Points scored: 0 Average minutes played: 23.4 Linebreaks: 0 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 47.6 Average tackles per game: 11.2 Average missed tackles per game: 1 Offloads for season: 1 Tackle breaks: 2 Errors: 0
26. John Skandalis – I thought we saw the last of Skando in 2006 when he departed the Tigers to head over to the UK to play for Huddersfield. A knee injury cut Skando’s time short in the UK though, and he returned to Sydney this season to take up a position with the Wests Tigers as a community liaison officer. It was little surprise when he came out of retirement to play for Wests and help along the younger players at the club. Again it was little surprise when Skando returned to FG in round 11 against the Broncos. I had my doubts that Skando would struggle to keep up but he did so without any dramas and was used with good effect off the interchange bench. He went forward well and while he had a tendency to drop off tackles, his defence was ok overall. Not sure how he’ll figure in the Tigers plans for next season, but he went alright this year.
Games played: 14 Tries: 1 Goals: 0 Points scored: 4 Average minutes played: 33.9 Linebreaks: 2 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 91.8 Average tackles per game: 17.1 Average missed tackles per game: 2.2 Offloads for season: 2 Tackle breaks: 11 Errors: 5
27. Peni Tagive – Another unfulfilled talent at the Tigers. Tagive is a big unit who can really motor when injury free. Unfortunately for the junior Kangaroo, he has only played 8 games in the last 2 seasons as he been plagued by groin injuries. When Chris Lawrence and Dean Collis were both injured, we saw Tagive come into the centres, and he looked alright. Unfortunately he dislocated his shoulder in his second game this season and that put him out for the season while he underwent his second reconstruction. Off-contract, the Tigers tried to hang onto Peni, but the Dragons came along with a significantly larger offer which the Tigers could not match.
Games played: 2 Tries: 1 Goals: 0 Points scored: 4 Average minutes played: 65.5 Linebreaks: 1 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 69 Average tackles per game: 15.5 Average missed tackles per game: 4 Offloads for season: 0 Tackle breaks: 3 Errors: 1
28. Rocky Trimarchi – Another utility backrower who came through the grades with Wests, but has been unable to cement a position in FG. Trimarchi reminds me of Liam Fulton, similar build and a very good defender, but lacks Fulton’s ball-playing skill. Having said that, he makes a decent lock. He was given little opportunity to impress though and it seems the Tigers lost patience with him as he has not been re-signed by the club, yet another victim of the clean-out the Tigers have had this year.
Games played: 5 Tries:01 Goals: 0 Points scored: 0 Average minutes played: 31.8 Linebreaks: 1 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 37.4 Average tackles per game: 17 Average missed tackles per game: 1.4 Offloads for season: 2 Tackle breaks: 4 Errors: 0
29. Taniela Tuiaki – TNT was named Dally M winger of the year this season, and rightfully so as he was a force to be reckoned with all season until a shocking broken leg and damaged ankle late in the season was his try scoring spree come to an end. TNT began the season in ominous form, bagging a double against the Raiders and never looking back from there. He worked hard on his fitness and lifted his work rate noticeably, doing a lot of running, usually going through players rather than around them. Tuiaki formed a very good combo with Lawrence and if there is one weak point in his game, it’s defusing kicks on the tryline, as the big fella seriously struggles when it comes to jumping. Still, he had an excellent season until injury robbed him of becoming the leading tryscorer in 2009. He has a long road to recovery ahead of him so I hope he can get back to his best next season.
Games played: 22 Tries: 21 Goals: 0 Points scored: 84 Average minutes played: 77.2 Linebreaks: 24 Linebreak assists: 0 Try Assists: 0
Average metres gained: 130 Average tackles per game: 2.8 Average missed tackles per game: 1.1 Offloads for season: 3 Tackle breaks: 113 Errors: 20
So that’s it for 2009, every player to have played first grade for the Tigers this season.