Club: Wests Tigers
Record: 14-10 (+61)
Players Used in 2014: 43
Season Highlight: Five wins on the trot mid-season including wins at home and away against eventual Grand Finalists in the Newcastle Knights
Season Lowlight: The continual loss of players to first grade due to the clubs horrific injury toll which inhibited Paul Fletcher’s ability to field a consistent outfit
Summary: Largely a permanent fixture inside the top four for the most part, the Tigers eventually fell by the wayside in terms of being a Premiership threat purely due to the clubs horrific injury toll that required a number of VB NSW Cup players to step up and play NRL, particularly over the concluding couple of months which ultimately cruelled the clubs chances of sealing an all-important four finish.
In addition to all of the notable injuries, the Tigers also lost a few handy players via the transfer market throughout the course of the season with Ben Murdoch-Masila (Panthers), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Rugby) and Marika Koroibete (Storm) all moving on. Koroibete in particular was a big loss with the winger scoring tries for fun at one point and on track to score 30+ tries prior to heading south.
What all of the above did mean though was that a number of the clubs Ron Massey Cup affiliated players from the Western Suburbs Magpies were given a shot in the VB NSW Cup at differing times. Players such as Michael Stevens, Dayne Craig and Sonny Bristow all competed well for the Tigers when given a chance, and this year’s experiences will serve them all well into the future.
Despite all of the above roadblocks and hurdles the Tigers still managed to grind out 14 wins and finish in sixth spot, which tells you a lot about the players who are currently at the club and also the resolve of coach Paul Fletcher. When you fully consider all of the dramas at the club this year, both on and off the park, it was perhaps a truly remarkable performance for the man simply known as ‘Fletch’ to have steered this club to where they finished.
No doubt though that they still would have been left a little disappointed with the finish to their year though with back-to-back losses at the hands of Wyong, a side that they may have felt they should have beaten, seeing them eliminated in week one of the finals.
There were a number of solid performers for the Tigers in 2014 with guys such as Jack Buchanan, Nathan Brown, Jarrod Farlow, Michael Bullock, Inno Inosesio, Kyle Lovett and Joel Luani leading the way up front while Asipeli Fine, Setefano Taukafa, Jy Hitchcox and Kurtis Rowe all had their moments in the backline.
We seem to say it every year but injuries usually dictate a clubs chances of winning this competition and as a result the Tigers have had next to no chance of winning it in each of the last two season to be honest. So here’s hoping for a change of luck in 2015 in that department, because there is certainly plenty of talent at the club and the Tigers might just be the team to watch next year if they get a clear run at it.
Conclusion: Not a bad season once you factor in all of the intangibles. Plenty of talent at the club and a number of very good young players who will be looking to make their mark in 2015.