Wests Tigers 2019 roster: What you need to know

Luke Brooks will be key for the Tigers. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)
Luke Brooks will be key for the Tigers. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

After falling just short of breaking their finals drought and changing bus drivers, the Tigers will be looking to go one better in 2019.

The joint venture now boasts the unenviable record of longest finals absence in the league having last appeared in the playoffs in 2011.

Gone are the big recruitment drives, the Tigers have only landed two players in the off-season and the sentiment at the club is clear - the time for rebuilds is over.

Full squad: Josh Aloiai, Luke Brooks, Michael Chee Kam, Oliver Clark, Matt Eisenhuth, Tyson Gamble, Luke Garner, Robbie Farah, Mahe Fonua, Chris Lawrence, Jacob Liddle, Benji Marshall, Esan Marsters, Ryan Matterson, Ben Matulino, Moses Mbye, Sam McIntyre, Chris McQueen, Thomas Mikaele, Paul Momirovski, David Nofoaluma, Russell Packer, Josh Reynolds, Robbie Rochow, Dylan Smith, Elijah Taylor, Corey Thompson, Alex Twal.

Ins: Ryan Matterson (Sydney Roosters), Paul Momirovski (Sydney Roosters)

Outs: Pita Godinet (released), Tim Grant (Penrith Panthers), Tui Lolohea (Leeds), Kevin Naiqama (St Helens), Sauaso Sue (Canterbury Bulldogs), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers)

Best XVII: 1. Moses Mbye 2. Corey Thompson 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Esan Marsters 5. David Nofoaluma 6. Benji Marshall/Josh Reynolds 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Robbie Farah 10. Ben Matulino 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Elijah Taylor 14. Josh Reynolds/Benji Marshall/Jacob Liddle 15. Alex Twal 16. Matt Eisenhuth 17. Josh Aloiai

FORWARDS

Ivan Cleary is gone but his horde of Kiwis remain. Russell Packer and Ben Matulino both enjoyed solid first seasons at Concord and Elijah Taylor has become a smothering defensive presence since he joined from Penrith.

Chris Lawrence had something of a comeback season last year and Ryan Matterson will be given first crack on the right edge.

Beyond the starters the men to watch are Alex Tawl - the Lebanese international is one of the most promising forwards in the league - and giant youngster Thomas Mikaele, who is yet to make his NRL debut.

Matterson has joined the club to secure a starting spot. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.
Matterson has joined the club to secure a starting spot. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

BACKS

Points were a problem at times last season for the Tigers but their 2-5 specialise in making metres from their own end.

Corey Thompson was one of the success stories of the season and David Nofoaluma has long been one of the best yardage wingers in the competition.

His stint in reserve grade early last season did him a world of good.

Esan Marsters has one centre spot locked up after a breakout 2018 while new recruit Paul Momirovski and cult hero Mahe Fonua will battle it out for the other spot.

Mbye has plenty of talent. AAP Image/Dean Lewins.
Mbye has plenty of talent. AAP Image/Dean Lewins.

SPINE

The Tigers playmakers are caught between the past and the future. Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah's return was a feel good story the club really needed after a tough couple of years and the two enjoyed good seasons on the whole.

However both are close to the end of their careers and the prospective replacements - Josh Reynolds and Jacob Liddle - are already on the books.

Reynolds and Liddle were troubled by injury last season but fitting everyone in alongside Luke Brooks and Moses Mbye will be one of Michael Maguire's biggest challenges.

What will the Tigers do with Josh Reynolds? Photo by Matt King/Getty Images.
What will the Tigers do with Josh Reynolds? Photo by Matt King/Getty Images.

RECRUITMENT STRENGTH

After some big recruitment drives in recent seasons the Tigers have focused on their two positions of need - centre and backrow.

Momirovski is an intriguing prospect who showed flashes of ability in his two NRL games last season and impressive composure in his semi-final cameo.

Matterson has been a prospect of note for several seasons and has the size and skill to make an immediate impact on the right edge.

The second Robbie Farah era is underway. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.
The second Robbie Farah era is underway. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

WHERE THEY'RE LACKING

Clarity in the spine. Josh Reynolds is on a hefty contract and Jacob Liddle is the club's dummy half of the future.

Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah have both signed on for one more year, presumably under the assumption they'd stay in first grade.

Navigating this delicate situation and continuing to get the best out of Luke Brooks, who enjoyed the best year of his career last season, and Moses Mbye, who looked more comfortable at fullback as the year went on, will determine the Tigers' fate in 2019.

News Corp Australia


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