Dirty dozen Tiger trade secrets

A lot of rumors and innuendo have been floating around since the latest round of mid season trades were announced. The Tigers, usually on the quiet this time of year, have been in the middle of the action.

The team at Brisbane Wests Tigers central at South Brisbane has compiled a list of rumours we are hearing/researching. We hope this transparency will appease after a slight mishap earlier in the week when we were mislead by a (now deleted) source.

The remainder of this article is categorically based on hearsay and what comes out of the beige – now brown – brisbane wests tigers fans fax machine. So get your salt, get spoon and eat as you read on…

It has been said that the nucleus Wests Tigers squad has had four years to make it work. Apart from last year, we haven’t made any huge progress since 2005. Many believe the lack of a quality half, full back and some pigs that bend the line are the biggest problems.

Another significant factor, and something Farah reminds us of, is that we are getting slowed down in the play the ball, resulting in our mobile forward pack losing its lustre. Several factors have contributed to a trade-a-thon,which will see a change of faces in the club.

  1. Sheens getting his new contract. Some players might have been hanging on hoping for a coaching change. Likewise, the new contract might have come with a bit of a nudge from Humphreys, resulting in Sheens needing to make improvements in certain areas from next year. Perhaps several KPIs have been established where previously they were missing?
  2. Being honest, while we all have alot of love for our favourite players, some of them have simply not kicked on like we had hoped.
  3. Remember some players might be looking for greener pastures, they do have lives outside football, and some have origin on the brain.

Rumour 1: Josh Dugan will be signed or is being looked at to sign with the club. It has been also rumoured that he will be going to the Roosters from 2013. We believe this rumour has an element of truth to it, but time will tell. Likelihood of happening = 4/10.

Rumour 2: Lui to the Broncos to play in his favoured #6. There has been a stack of talk around Lockyer’s replacement. The Broncos have been planning for this change for some time and they have some great players coming through in Norman and Hoffman to name just two. But who will back up the back ups? The club is looking for depth, Lui is young and versatile, being a part of the QLD emerging squad he would want to put himself in front of the selectors and fans week in, week out. It is believed the Broncos came onto the scene once Souths had moved on. Likelihood of happening = 7/10.

Rumour 3: The Sharks are circling, and seem to be the retirement club of choice for the Tigers boys. The fax reports the Sharks are having talks with Moltzen, BUT these talks seemed to have cooled somewhat after the discovery of Chad Townend. Still, the Sharks would like more depth in the halves and Moltzen seems to carry the “utility” tag these days. Not to be put off, some say the Broncos are keen to talk to Tim as well. Seen as a first grade half by most earlier in his career, his development has stuttered, mainly due to injury. Running strongly with confidence, a returning Tim Moltzen would be one I would like to Tigers to keep, but alas it sounds unlikely. Likelihood of signing with the Sharks = 6/10. Likelihood of signing with the Broncos = 3/10.

Rumour 4: Shackelton to the Tigers. This one came completely out of the blue, but again from an extremely reliable source. Shackelton was a mile eater and big in defence two years ago. Coming back from injury he hasn’t quite captured his former power. Likelihood of happening = 8/10.

Rumour 5: The Blair hitch project. The Tigers have been trying to get Blair to sign on the dotted line for weeks, and the devil may well be in the detail. The deal is basically done and neither party is likely to walk away at this point. Likelihood of happening = 9.5/10.

Rumour 6: Daniela to the Broncos. Due to lack of impact apart from his three try special last year, Daniela has struggled to get a jersey. It’s a shame he is injured now as he could really put his stamp on a spot with the current injury crisis. We believe the club is looking for more size out wide. Will he go to the Broncos? Likelihood of happening = 3/10. Expect park footy for Daniela, or better yet he gets signed by a rival club. The fax machine is dreadfully quiet on this.

Rumour 7: Ryan and Flanagan to Penrith. The Ryan situation is well documented, however Flanno is a bit of a surprise packet. He hasn’t really had the best run with the Tigers, and it is likely this move is mutal. We understand Penrith see Flanno as a handy addition in the utility role. Likelihood of Flanno to the Panthers = 4/10.

Rumour 8: C Heighington, the much loved workhorse. Here is the saga so far. The club has told Chris that he will most likely start on the bench next year. With the loss of Fifita and Gibbs and possibly Fulton and Flanno, this is a stong indication that there are a few forward signings to come. You can take it as a bit of a challenge to Chris, the Tigers forward pack won’t be a walk up start anymore. Now this may have come as a surprise to Chris, and possibly hurt him somewhat, but he is a man and must rise to the challenge. The Tigers will not allow Chris to break contract to play for another NRL club. He only recently signed a new contract and the Tigers have allowed him to test his worth in ESL. Likelihood of signing with the Panthers = 2/10. Likelihood of signing with an ESL club = 2/10. Likelihood of playing on at the Tigers = 6/10.

Rumour 9: Fulton to the Sharks. Source, Brad Fittler. Unfounded at this time. Likelihood of happening = 4/10.

Rumour 10: Benji to union or the Broncos. This is complete garbage, he is on contract and not going anywhere. Likelihood of happening = 0/10.

Rumour 11:  McKinnon to ESL. Confirmed. Payten to retire. Confirmed.

Rumor 12: Ayshford has been bumped up in salary and taken up what was McKinnon’s salary. Likely, with contract negotiations underway.

Rumor 13: Moors has not been sighted this year so draw your own conclusions. Hint, they should involve a door and a different coloured jersey.

Rumour 14: Miller is the real deal, he could be our 7 for a decade if everything goes right. Likelihood of happening = 9/10.

Okay folks, this is everything we have got. Draw your own conclusions or feel free to email us if you have heard anything. We have tried our hardest to get as much information as possible and we will happily provide more as the fax informs us.

You can stop eating salt now, perhaps have a glass of water…

<^brisbane wests tigers Fans Admins, feat brown fax machine^>

Round 16: Tigers vs Bulldogs

Preview:

When these teams met in Round 1, expectations for both clubs where high. Most people predicted they would end up premiership front-runners battling for the title. But with more than half the season gone, the Tigers and Dogs are only on the cusp of the Top 8 and struggling for momentum. The Tigers sit in sixth with a 7-7 record and +14 differential, but are three wins behind the fifth placed Broncos. The Dogs are on equal points with Wests but have had both byes. They’re record is 6-7 with a -27 differential and currently sit at ninth on the ladder.

We seem to say it every couple of weeks, but it’s true – this is another must-win game for the Wests Tigers. We can count ourselves a bit unlucky against Melbourne. The effort was great, but the execution and some refereeing decisions were poor. The forward pack was strong, however Farah and the backline failed to spark. It was a big call from Sheens to leave Lui on the bench and shift Moltzen into half. Unfortunately for Moltzen he didn’t really take advantage of his opportunity and he finds himself back on the bench this week with Simona retaining his place at starting centre. Young Miller gets another call up to the top grade with Benji being spelled to rest his knee.

Canterbury are a dangerous team when their backs are against the wall. Getting thumped by the lowly Sharks would have hurt last week and their coach is under pressure to keep his job next year. But they are back to full strength this week and will be fired-up for a big game. The Wests Tigers are the home team underdogs – just the way we like it!

I think it’s clear that the on-going Blair saga is disrupting the team harmony. It’s easy for Sheens to ask his players to roll up their sleeves and get on with this year, but the club has made a mistake in allowing this to drag on for so long without resolution. I trust the club has weighed the options and is implementing a plan to improve the squad from 2012 onwards, but they have faulted in allowing rumours and player departures to dominate the crucial part of this season.

Fortune Teller:

FTS: Beau Ryan.
HT/FT: Tigers/Tigers.
Margin: Tigers by 10.

Fantasy Bites:

After overcoming Julian’s mini tigers and claiming top spot on the BWTF Printing Well Cup ladder, TigerBrad’s Howling T’Wolves are involved in another top-of-the-table clash, this time against FlannoFan.

The last big hurdle remaining for Dreamteam coaches is the post-Origin Round 18 when the Broncos and Dragons have a bye. Then we’re on the home stretch to the finals!

<^One-Eyed Tiger^>

Weekends out West: Spoonman

Fifita furore: People are getting far too emotional about the whole Andrew Fifita situation. Players leave clubs, it’s an inescapable part of professional sport. Jordan left the Bulls, Gretzy left the Oilers, Ruth left the Yankees, Favre left the Packers and Hogan left the WWF. You get the idea. Yet Andrew Fifita signs a rumoured $350,000 a year deal with the Sharks and all of a sudden Tigers boss Stephen Humphreys is public enemy number one.
 
There was a similar response when Ben Te’o left the club and the Tigers haven’t missed a beat. In fact, I’d say our backrow of Ellis, Heighno and Dwyer is better off without Mr Te’o and his money hungry ways. Good luck Andrew and don’t forget to pack your knife and fork, they only have spoons in Cronulla.
 
Numbers game: 44. The number of minutes it took me to get my foot out my mouth after the Blues evened this year’s State of Origin series. Ricky Stuart, I owe you an apology.
 
Shout out: ”It was great throwing the ball at Lewi, I’ve always wanted to do that” – Benji Marshall on throwing the ball at Lewis Brown’s head after Sunday’s miracle win in New Zealand.
 
<^TigerBrad^>

Round 15: Tigers vs Storm

Preview:

Since 2008 the Wests Tigers have won two out of the four clashes with the Storm. In front of a capacity Leichhardt Oval crowd this Sunday arvo the Tigers will be looking to improve on that record.

Last week’s come-from-behind victory over the Warriors showed what the team is capable of when they click into gear. A near-perfect final quarter of footy got the Tigers their second back-to-back win of the season. But it will take a more complete effort to stretch this streak to three and topple Melbourne, who currently sit in second place on the ladder.

Whatever Tim Sheens and the senior players say over half-time oranges should really be bottled at delivered before kick-off. Wests second-half efforts since their bye in Round 9 have been quite impressive. They have out-scored their opponents 71-32 after half-time in those five games, winning three of them. It’s poor defence lapses that remain the Wests Tigers biggest issue at the moment, with Dwyer and Lui the main culprits when it comes to missed tackles. Compounding the problem is they both defend together on the right edge, which New Zealand exploited consistently last week. Sheens has again favoured consistency over positional changes and named the same squad to take on the Storm this week. Let’s hope they found time to work on their defensive issues during those airport delays.

An under-strengthed Melbourne team made light work of thumping an even lesser-strengthed Roosters team last Monday night. Widdop showed he’s every bit the star player, even without the support of the famous three in the “spine”. The Storm have four backing up from Origin but Smith in particular has shown that it won’t affect his performance. The Tigers had a slightly disrupted preparation due to the flight dramas from New Zealand, but again shouldn’t have too much impact on this game.

It will also be interesting to see how Adam Blair performs this week. Despite no official announcement, everyone expects that Blair will be a Tiger next year, but the unrest his signing is causing with the current team means he’s got a lot of work to do to convince the fans he’s worth it (especially in light of official announcements that Gibbs and Fifita are goneski next year). Let’s hope he has the decency to wait until later in the year to start showing off. Another pedestrian performance this Sunday will be ok with us, thanks Adam.

The Tigers sit in sixth position and have two home games against fellow Top-8 teams (Storm and Bulldogs) leading into their Round 17 bye. These next two weeks present a massive test but an awesome opportunity for Wests to establish their 2011 premiership credentials. Go Tigers!

Fortune Teller:

FTS: Gareth Ellis.
HT/FT: Storm/Tigers (the TAB have posted Tigers as favourites – go figure)
Margin: Another nail biter – Tigers by 2.

Fantasy Bites:

Could this be the week that mini tigers meet their match? So far Julian leads the BTWF Printing Well Cup with eight wins from eight games, but faces the number two team in TigerBrad’s Howling T’Wolves. Brad has been outscoring everyone over the past couple of weeks, but with Origin injuries anything can happen.

<^One-Eyed Tiger^>

Round 14: Warriors vs Tigers

Preview:

At the half way point of the season, the Wests Tigers have won half of their games.  In half of those wins (Rounds 3, 5 and 8) we saw glimpses of the Tigers at their best.  In half of the losses, we saw them stumble and fall to teams in the bottom half of the ladder (Rounds 4, 6 and 10).  Against teams currently in the Top 8 we have a record of 1-3, the only win coming in Round 2 against this week’s opponents, the New Zealand Warriors.

Up until last weekend’s loss to the Roosters, the Warriors had strung together five wins in a row (including a win over the Storm) and currently sit one win ahead of Wests on the ladder in 6th position.  The Tigers go in search of their first back-to-back win since Round 2 and 3.  Neither team will be impacted by Origin this week, but the Tigers were dealt a blow on Thursday with news that Tuqiri is out for a month. McKinnon though is expected to play.  For the hosts, Heremaia is out with a hand injury but they welcome back veteran Hohiaia.

The NZers have some big blokes in the centres and of course a mountain of a man on the left wing, so our outside backs will need to be at their defensive best.  Mateo in particular would have been encouraged by the ease at which the Newcastle forwards offloaded against us last week.

Last week’s golden point win was as vital as it was thrilling.  It was far from a polished performance, but coach Sheens was impressed with the effort.  Gareth Ellis was solid in his return but will take another week or so to regain his deadly connection with Marshall in attack.  For the second week, Heighno was again the standout player on the field.  How this guy is continually overlooked by Origin selectors is dumbfounding.  Lui’s defence in the first half was pretty good but he fell away badly in the second half.  The Kiwi fringe runners will be targeting him for sure.

The Tigers need to get the second half of the season off to a good start and can leap-frog the Warriors on the ladder with a convincing win.  Marshall is due for a big performance and if he’s on his game and Wests click into gear offensively, the victory should follow.

Football is business, but it’s an unfortunate distration for the team and fans alike when player transfer announcements are made at this stage of the season.  From a fan perspective it’s sad to see a young bloke like Fifita head elsewhere, but if it’s true I wish him well.  We’ll have a new look forward pack next year, but until then I hope the current pack can stay focused on this year, live up to their potential and make a serious push for the title.

Fortune Teller:

FTS: “The Beast”.

HT/FT:  Warriors/Tigers.

Margin: Tigers by 4.

Fantasy Bites:

There were some massive player scores in Dreamteam this week, with seven players scoring above 60 points.  This lead to some big totals in the BWTF Printing Well Cup, lead by Howling T’Wolves on 852 and the OneEyedTigers on 819.  Round 14 is a bye week in the head-to-head competition, so coaches just have to sit tight and hope that their stars survive this week and the Origin clash so they can back-up in Round 15.

Coaches should also start planning for the Round 18 head-to-head game which will see Dragons and Broncos on a bye.

<^One-Eyed Tiger^>

Weekends out West: Burn One Down

The reported loss of boom frontrower Andrew Fifita to the Sharks has clearly left some Wests Tigers fans hysterical. The ink had barely dried on The Daily Telegraph story and already people were calling for coach Tim Sheens to stand down immediately for “letting Fifita walk”. Others urged the Tigers to throw the kitchen sink at signing Cowboys young gun Tariq Sims and those who had gone completely off the deep end likened Fifita’s departure to that of David Gower. Honestly, I thought Tigers fans were made of better stuff than this. So let’s all pause for a moment, burn one down and look at the situation as it stands.
 
The Tigers took a team option on Fifita in May, extending his contract until the end of 2012. He then sat down with the club and started working on a long-term deal, only to be offered $350,000 a year with the Sharks. In order to accept the Cronulla offer he had to be released from his 2012 contract. The Tigers released him, ultimately clearing the way for Wests to sign Adam Blair, because they were unwilling to match the $350,000 a year on offer at the Shire. I was against the Blair signing originally, but if Andrew Fifita is worth $350,000 a year then how much do you pay Simon Dwyer and Aaron Woods?
 
Sheens has copped plenty of criticism this year and some of it is well deserved, but I for one can’t question his player retention. Scott Prince and Anthony Laffranchi left the Tigers to be closer to their families and pocket a few thousands dollars. Bronson Harrison has been solid at Canberra but just quietly, the Tigers have a pretty handy backrow without him. Paul Whatuira and Shane Elford made way for Chris Lawrence, who has since gone on to represent Australia, and Daine Laurie may never play in the NRL again. Looking back, it would have been nice to have Brett Hodgson and Pat Richards around for a few more years, but you can’t ride a winner every week.
 
Then again, maybe the Tigers will be riding a winner when Tim Sheens stands down and we have a starting frontrow of Tariq Sims and David Gower…
 
<^TigerBrad^>
 

Round 13: Tigers vs Knights

Preview:

The Tigers return to Leichhardt for a must-win battle with the Knights, welcoming back Tuqiri and Ellis from long lay-offs and Galloway and McKinnon who missed last week’s game. Newcastle will be without key play-maker Mullen and forward Taufua this week, but gain the big centre Junior Sa’u. Both clubs sit on a 5-6 record with the Tigers ahead on the ladder at 8th on percentages.

Wests put in a good effort against the Dragons last week. Despite the loss, the team will take plenty of confidence out of the game. Down 16-0 in the first half, it could have been a very messy afternoon. But our boys rallied and maintained their intensity for just about the full 80 minutes (that one minute before half time being the obvious exception). Heighington had one of his best games of the year showing he can more than match the opposing Origin backrowers. Against a team that conceded on average less than 10 points per game, the Wests Tigers scored three converted tries and came within millimetres of scoring about three more. It was only a handful of errors at crucial times that prevented the visitors from securing the upset win.

The Knights on the other hand limped to a two-point victory over the Eels last week. Like the Tigers, the Knights have been guilty of regularly switching off at times this season. They have a solid team on paper but have not been able to string two wins together since overcoming the lowly Sharks and Raiders in Rounds 6 and 7. By all counts, the Tiges should be far too strong for Newcastle this Monday. But of course winning the games they should has been the most difficult proposition for the Wests Tigers for a while.

The two competition points are there for the Tigers to take if they turn up with the same attitude they did last week. If we can win, we remain in the premiership race and have the opportunity to build momentum with a near full-strength team and string some wins together during the Origin period. If we lose, we’ll be running lower on last-chances in 2011 than Mr Todd Carney.

Fortune Teller:

FTS: The match-up on the Tigers left edge featuring powerful Fijian wingers Tuqiri and Uate should be a cracker. I’m backing Tuqiri to return in style and score the opening try.
HT/FT: Tigers/Tigers
Margin: Wests Tigers by 10.

Fantasy Bites:

TigerBrad again takes the honour of top scoring with 733 in Round 12. Julian’s mini tigers remain unbeaten at the top of the ladder and face the lowly Tits Magee for a chance to record 8-straight wins.

In Round 13 of the BTWF Printing Well Cup, the most intriguing match-ups will be FlannoFan (4th) vs 89Heros (2nd), Horsehead Bookends (7th) vs OneEyed Tigers (5th), Mongrel Magpies (8th) vs Howling T’Wolves (3rd) and bucketsofblood (9th) vs Frothing Donkeys (6th).

The curse of the front rowers continued last week with Luke Douglas getting injured early in the first half. Luke’s cries of pain though were drowned out by the thousands of Dreamteam coaches who traded Douglas into their team for the injured Tolman. Coaches who opted for Luke Bailey will be crossing all fingers that the curse does not carry over this week.

<^One-Eyed Tiger^>