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West Tigers favourites to inherit the wooden spoon

Posted on 08/12 by Joe Gann

West Tigers favourites to inherit the wooden spoon
Wests Tigers predicted to endure a torrid season following the departures of Aaron Woods and James Tedesco.

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The loss of James Tedesco and Aaron Woods together with the Newcastle Knights’ impressive shopping haul has combined to paint a bleak picture for the Tigers’ 2018 prospects.

Despite accruing some impressive signatures for the upcoming campaign - Josh Reynolds (Bulldogs), Benji Marshall (Broncos), Russell Packer (Dragons), Ben Matulino (Warriors), Chris McQueen (Titans), Mahe Fonua (Hull FC), Taane Milne (Dragons), Robbie Rochow (Storm), Corey Thompson (Widnes Vikings), Pita Godinet (Sea Eagles) – have all joined up with the joint venture side – punters are predicting a miserable year at Campbelltown.

Wests and the Knights battled it out to avoid the unwanted wooden spoon moniker last term with the Tigers prevailing by 4 points, culminating in a 14th position finish. However, the Knights’ hugely fruitful recruitment drive, topped off by the massive coup of landing Mitchell Pearce, sends out a strong message to teams around them that the men from the Hunter will be an entirely different proposition this year.

It is more likely that they will be playing finals footy than becoming embroiled in a bottom of the ladder scrap at the business end of the season.

The Gold Coast Titans are another team who must be approaching the new season with trepidation, particularly in the aftermath of Jarryd Hayne’s departure, and betting prices at this early stage suggests that they will be deep in the mire. History is on the side of the Tigers at least – if they were to end 2018 at the foot of the competition ladder, it would be their first wooden spoon in club history.

Coach Ivan Cleary will be determined to avoid such ignominy, and he has already overseen a steady improvement in his side after taking over the reins from Jason Taylor mid-season. He inherited a club in turmoil and has made good progress in a relatively short period; the final months of the season saw a burgeoning competitive streak develop with young academy graduates forming the nucleus of a new-look Tigers.

There are certainly grounds for optimism at the club now that Cleary has had time to gauge the merits of his playing staff and has recruited accordingly. It seems incredibly harsh that his side is already being written off, but the desire to prove their doubters wrong may provide an additional motivational factor when the action begins.

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