NRL 11 months ago

Wests Tigers 2017 Season Review

  • Wests Tigers 2017 Season Review

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Tuimoala Lolohea of the Tigers celebrates scoring a try during the round 26 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the New Zealand Warriors at Leichhardt Oval on September 3, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

  • Wests Tigers 2017 Season Review

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 03: James Tedesco of the Tigers poese with Aaron Woods of the Tigers following their final game with the Tigers during the round 26 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the New Zealand Warriors at Leichhardt Oval on September 3, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

  • Wests Tigers 2017 Season Review

    TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 08: West Tigers coach, Ivan Cleary and Aaron Woods of the Tigers speak with the media following the round six NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Wests Tigers at 1300SMILES Stadium on April 8, 2017 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

The Wests Tigers had their fair share of ups and downs in 2017 - a year that seemed so promising after Round 1 when they trounced the Rabbitohs 34-18 in a comprehensive performance, showcasing their pace, flair and clever ball-playing.

However the Tigers have proved time and time again over the past few years just how inconsistent they can be and two heavy defeats later to Penrith and Canberra and the side was without a coach.

Jason Taylor's early sacking meant that assistant Andrew Webster was forced to step in for two games and overlooked two successive defeats (the first of which was a close loss to Melbourne).

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Ivan Cleary took over the embattled club from Round 6 who were already reeling from a 1-5 start to the season, coupled with the immense talk of big player exits - James Tedesco to Roosters  and Aaron Woods to Bulldogs were finalised deals from 2018 just weeks later while five-eighth Mitchell Moses played his last game in the black and orange in the Round 10 loss to Souths; before completing his mid-season switch to the Eels.

Wins over the Cowboys and Bulldogs led Cleary to a 2/3 start in charge but a losing streak of 7 games where they leaked 192 points, underlined their key problems.

The Tigers regained their confidence as Cleary's coaching styles began to click with the team, with the side recovering to win four of their remaining nine games to avoid the spoon and finish 14th.

The mid-season acquisition of Tuimoala Lolohea from the Warriors was never expected to be a quick fix in being paired with Luke Brooks in the halves however his confidence grew throughout the season and his speed and strength was on full display in the back end of the season.

With plenty of recruits announced for next season including Josh Reynolds from the Bulldogs (who is expected to slot into the halves with Brooks next year), Lolohea will be aiming to hold down the fullback position after the departure of Tedesco.

Big forwards Ben Matulino and Russell Packer will add much needed depth to the forward pack while Chris McQueen can offer some big-game experience and create more competition for back row positions along with fellow recruit Robbie Rochow. Outside backs Mahe Fonua and Corey Thompson will ensure that mainstays David Nofoaluma and Kevin Naiqama's positions aren't locked down while Benji Marshall's homecoming could be one of the feel-good stories of the season.

After narrowly missing out on the finals in 2016, the 2017 season was a movement in the other direction for the Tigers but the appointment of Ivan Cleary appears to have steadied the ship and the numerous signings can help the Tigers to become a threat to the top 8.

Best player- Elijah Taylor

Top tryscorer- Kevin Naiqama (9)

Top pointscorer- Tuimoala Lolohea (92)

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