Why has Tim Shines finally decided to replace a half back with a half back?
For years Tim has tried to play players in positions that were outside their known roles in order to plug injury holes or going further back, to replace Scott Prince.
There are numerous examples, Farah at half back, Marshall had a stint there (under the guise of a number on your back means nothing), John Morris, lest we forget brought across from Parramatta to be a half, didn’t fit the bill.
Furthermore, we had Lawrence at 5/8, and even Moltzen at fullback could be seen as a player playing out of position.
Tim, why after years of adhoc player placement have you changed your strategy? Why have you finally decided that your jack of all trades, Fitzhenry, is just a tool?
I have been asking myself these questions all week after Tim announced Lazarus in his squad to take on the Bulldogs this weekend. (I came to my conclusion about Fitzhenry about four years ago).
I believe Tim has changed his tune due to a number of factors, and realisations.
Firstly, Tim surely has come to the conclusion that his experiments have not worked. Tim has had four Septembers since 2005 as extra thinking time to come to this conclusion. There is more to the story though.
Tim has had limited options within the lower grades at the Wests Tigers to draw on. While there has been plenty of “raw” talent, these players were not yet up to NRL standard and surely would have been more of a liability than players not in their preferred positions.
With the maturity and skill level greatly improving within the Wests Tigers lower grades, this is evidenced by the Grand Final appearance of Balmain-Ryde and the Wests Tigers Under 20s, Tim now has real options for like for like replacement.
Combined with a greater depth in the club came some smart off season recruitment. I have heard many fans comment about the lack of perceived skill in our latest recruits, however I believe it has been very strategic.
There is greater depth in key positions, Arana Taumata is an astute replacement for Benji, and the fact that he is given no favours at the club and has to earn his position in first grade seems to have been a solid reality check for Arana. I could go further with these examples, but the point is Tim now has options and depth.
Finally and probably most importantly, Tim has faith in his leaders. Previous years Tim (and all Tigers fans) have had to sit and watch woeful decisions made in pressure situations by Tigers leaders, opting for the low percentage play when perhaps more patience was required.
Although the Tigers still play razzle dazzle football and all the 2010 attacking stats confirm this, the leaders within the club are increasing making the correct decision, and standing tall in the periods of game when the pressure is on.
The younger player are feeling more sure when required to play in first grade under this leadership, and this in turn makes Tim feel more comfortable about giving players an opportunity to step up into first grade.
Tim and the Tigers have evolved to this point be good planning, patience and strong direction within the club. The addition of Folkes to the coaching team should not be underestimated either, he is making the second tier players into strong, fit, NRL options for Tim to call on.
Now that he has removed the issues that have dogged his tenure at the Tigers over the years, and he has got a squad that he built literally from the ground up, I am looking forward to seeing Tim show what he can do as a coach, when it appears his player options are presently wide open.
The only drawback? Tim is likely to lose his September pondering month this year, as October will see the delivery of ‘Tim’s Plan’ to Wests Tigers and the realisation that Tim was planning this many years ago.
– Flanno Fan