Wests Tigers: A look at the 2018 squad overhaul

The Tigers have confirmed a number of players who will not be at the club next season.

The Wests Tigers have been targeted and direct in their recruitment ever since Ivan Cleary took over as head coach. With plenty of players coming into the club, it is inevitable that a fair number will also be heading out of the door.

High-profile departures like James Tedesco, Mitchell Moses and Aaron Woods all made the headlines during the season and represent a significant changing of the guard for the Tigers.

Waving goodbye to key long-term stars

Fullback Tedesco spent six seasons at the club which handed him his NRL debut back in 2012 but will now join the Sydney Roosters. The Bulldogs were amongst the clubs interested in his signature but he will instead move to the side who finished second in this year’s NRL ladder.

Ava Seumanufagai is another departing player who had played his entire NRL career with the club. The blockbusting prop forward will join the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks from 2018.

Long-time Manly Sea Eagles hooker Matt Ballin’s time at the club was cut short as the player retired due to persistent knee injuries. Joel Edwards, Justin Hunt, Jack Littlejohn, Kyle Lovett and Jamal Idris have not been offered new deals by the club and move on to the free agent market. There remains to be seen just how much of a market there will be for their services, with players Edwards and Lovett coming in for plenty of criticism during the season.

A last chance for Jamal Idris wasted?

The released list is another step in the ongoing downward trajectory in the career of Idris.

Having made his way into the New South Wales and Australia teams, he was once widely touted as a destructive centre who would dominate the league.

It is fair to say that he has failed to live up to the hype, with the Tigers being the fourth club to wave goodbye to the Bulldogs junior. 

Prior to his time with the Tigers, in which he managed just five appearances and no tries before a season-ending ACL injury, Idris was handed a lifeline by Phil Gould and Cleary at the Penrith Panthers.

Idris ended his time there under a cloud when he quit the game and went on a soul-seeking mission, which took him to many exotic places around the world before he surprisingly turned up at the Tigers.

The departures allow the Wests Tigers to free up squad space for a plethora of new signings, including mid-season acquisition Tui Lolohea from the New Zealand Warriors, Josh Reynolds from the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Chris McQueen from the Gold Coast Titans.

The Cleary revolution

Cleary has sparked a massive overhaul of the playing roster, bringing in no less than 13 players in a bid to have a more successful 2018. One of the best bits of business sees former fans favourite Benji Marshall return to the club.

Marshall left the club to join the Blues of Super Rugby before returning to rugby league at the St George Illawarra Dragons and resurrecting his career under Wayne Bennett at the Brisbane Broncos. Marshall will be an interesting fit at the club with plenty of halves options available.

2018 Gains: Mahe Fonua (Hull FC), Tyson Gamble (2019), Tuimoala Lolohea (New Zealand Warriors), Benji Marshall (Brisbane Broncos), Ben Matulino (New Zealand Warriors), Chris McQueen (Gold Coast Titans), Taane Milne (St George Illawarra Dragons), Russell Packer (St George Illawarra Dragons), Josh Reynolds (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Robbie Rochow (Melbourne Storm), Corey Thompson (Widnes Vikings), Alex Twal (Parramatta Eels), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers).

Do you think the Tigers have made the right moves in preparing their squad for the 2018 season? Let us know in the comments below.


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Daniel Lang


Rugby League & Cricket editor at RealSport.

Daniel is a passionate advocate for the game of rugby league and the development of the sport across the world and, as such, writes with a zeal and determination to spread the gospel of the game.

A huge fan of cricket, football, NFL, Tennis and Supercar racing in Australia, Daniel can quickly find himself a casual fan of just about any sport after putting his mind to watching it.

Daniel is also one-half of the hugely successful podcast 'Panthers Weekly with Strawbs & Teach' where he talks all things Panthers Weekly while he also hosts the current affairs show 'the Strawbs Show' and the 'Summer of Cricket with Strawbs & Shnuu' as well as appearing on the Sydney FC covering 'Nothing But Blue Skies' podcast occasionally.