Wests Tigers

Last updated

Wests Tigers
Wests Tigers logo.svg
Club information
Full nameWestern Suburbs Balmain Wests Tigers
Colours  Black
  White
  Gold
Founded27 July 1999
Website weststigers.com.au
Current details
Ground(s)
CEOJustin Pascoe
ChairmanLee Hagipantelis
Coach Michael Maguire
Captain James Tamou
Competition National Rugby League
2021 season 13th
Rugby football current event.png Current season
Uniforms
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Kit right arm borderonblack.png
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts whitesides.png
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks white midband.png
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Home colours
Kit left arm borderonblack.png
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Kit body Vwideblack.png
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Away colours
Records
Premierships1 (2005)
Runners-upNone
Minor premiership None
Most capped277 - Robbie Farah
Highest points scorer1181 - Benji Marshall

The Wests Tigers are an Australian professional rugby league football team, based in the Inner West and Western Sydney. They have competed in the National Rugby League since being formed at the end of the 1999 NRL season as a joint-venture club between the Balmain Tigers and the Western Suburbs Magpies. The Wests Tigers started playing in the 2000 NRL season and they won their maiden premiership in 2005. It is one of only two clubs (the other being the Newcastle Knights) that has never lost a Grand Final in which it has participated. [1] The club also won the World Sevens in 2004.

Contents

The Wests Tigers play home games at three grounds: Leichhardt Oval (the home ground of Balmain), Campbelltown Stadium (the home ground of Western Suburbs) and Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta as of 2019, where they have committed to playing four games a year. They are currently coached by Michael Maguire. The club CEO is Justin Pascoe and Adam Hartigan is the General Manager (Head of Football) [2]

History

The nine foundation clubs and their respective locations in Sydney, Australia. NSWRL 1908 cropped.png
The nine foundation clubs and their respective locations in Sydney, Australia.

Background

In Australia, the game of rugby league began in 1908; the New South Wales Rugby League premiership (NSWRL) had nine teams from the Sydney area. Two of those teams were clubs based in Balmain and the Western Suburbs who happened to meet each other in round 1 of 1908. Balmain won, 24 to 0. The Balmain club, who later adopted a Tiger as their emblem, in their tenure in the NSWRL won eleven premierships in twenty grand finals and was one of the forces in the NSWRL competition. However their last premiership success was in 1969 and in the 1990s with many new clubs being established, there was pressure on clubs to perform to survive in the first grade competition in Australia. [3] The name Wests Tigers is derived from the nickname of the Western Suburbs Magpies and the mascot, a tiger, which was also the mascot of Balmain.

The Western Suburbs club won four premierships in twelve grand finals over the tenure of the NSWRL competition. The Western Suburbs Magpies, like the Balmain Tigers, had a dismal 1990s winning rate, and again there was pressure on the foundation clubs to perform. The NSWRL competition was replaced by the Australian Rugby League competition (ARL) in 1995 due to the expansion of rugby league within Australia. [3]

With a media-driven rival competition being set up, the pressure was for clubs to survive and preserve their short-term future. Both the Magpies and the Tigers signed with the ARL, whereas eight clubs of the 1995 ARL competition signed with the rival Super League competition for 1997. In 1998, the ARL and Super League were unified into a National Rugby League (NRL) competition. [3] As part of the deal with the ARL and Super League, the NRL competition reduced to fourteen teams in 2000 from the twenty two that had competition in both competitions in 1997. With the addition of a team in 1998, this meant that nine teams would be forced out before the 2000 season. [3]

Foundation

With the NRL offering guaranteed entrance into the 2000 competition and A$6 million funding for clubs that merged, many clubs that were struggling to compete negotiated to merge. Balmain had garnered interest to merge with the Parramatta Eels and Gold Coast Chargers while Western Suburbs had talked with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Penrith Panthers. Both Balmain and Western Suburbs felt that those offers were seen more as takeovers of their clubs rather than mergers. By June 1999, both clubs' boards had unanimously voted to form a joint-venture partnership with each other to make a competitive entity. [3]

One hundred shares were issued to Balmain Tigers Rugby League Football Club and 100 shares were issued to Western Suburbs Rugby League Football Group Pty Limited as a 50/50-owned joint venture. Due to Western Suburbs's record-breaking dismal season in 1999, they supplied just six of the twenty-five players to the new joint venture. A board of directors was appointed with five sourced from Balmain, five sourced from Western Suburbs, with a rotating chairman serving a one-year appointment. The inaugural chairman of the joint venture was John Chalk, [4] who was previously involved with Balmain Tigers, and Steve Noyce was appointed CEO [5]

Playing seasons

Coach Wayne Pearce 2000

Balmain coach Wayne Pearce was the initial coach of the Wests Tigers and new recruit Jarrod McCracken was named captain. Before the first round, the Tigers were denied a place in the double header at Stadium Australia. The debut match for the team was therefore held at Campbelltown, against eventual premiers the Brisbane Broncos, where after leading 18–6 the team snatched a 24-all draw after falling behind late in the game. John Skandalis scored the Tigers' first ever try.

The Tigers surprised many by maintaining a high place on the ladder for most of the year (often in second place). Losses to the Penrith Panthers (after leading 31–8) and in the snow against the Canberra Raiders combined with injuries to key players saw the Tigers slide out of the top eight. [6] The loss of captain Jarrod McCracken from a spear tackle against Melbourne was a crucial blow. [7]

A highlight of their first season is that Wests' Joel Caine claimed the 2000 NRL season's top point-scorer spot.

Coach Terry Lamb 2001–2002

2001 was a tough season for the joint venture club, including off-field incidents. After Wayne Pearce announced he would no longer coach the team, Terry Lamb was appointed to the position. This was a controversial selection because of animosity from Balmain supporters due to an incident involving Ellery Hanley in the 1988 Grand Final (see Terry Lamb entry for more information).

Early in the season, key players Craig Field and Kevin McGuinness tested positive to prohibited drugs and both received a one-year suspension. [8] Field was the team's halfback and playmaker while McGuinness was a leading try scorer for the club.

Later in the season another big name player was suspended: John Hopoate earned worldwide notoriety when he was charged with inserting his finger into the anus (pushing the players' shorts) of opposition players. [8] Hopoate quit the club and received a long suspension. [9] Lamb was criticised for seeming to condone the activity. [10]

During the season the club announced Terry Lamb would not have his contract renewed. [6] The team struggled near the foot of the ladder and only a large victory over Souths moved them clear of the wooden spoon position.

The coaching job for 2003 was offered to (and rejected by) both Craig Bellamy and Ian Millward before Tim Sheens was selected. The selection was by no means seen as a positive move by the media as Sheens' most recent coaching stint had seen him sacked by the North Queensland Cowboys. [11]

Coach Tim Sheens 2003–2012

The 2003 season was notable for the emergence of new young players through the team as the club moved away from the era of big names and big money signings and focused on developing junior talent. Most notably Benji Marshall, then a schoolboy prodigy with no senior league experience, made his debut against the Newcastle Knights.

The Tigers improved greatly in 2004 with provided help by signings of players such as Brett Hodgson and Pat Richards who began to blend well with the younger players emerging as talents. The Tigers narrowly missed the playoffs after losing their final three games when a single victory would have guaranteed finals football for the first time.

Premiership success

2005 was arguably the Wests Tigers' best season as of their foundation, as they not only made it to the finals for the first time, but also reached the top four in the round robin part of the competition, setting crowd attendance records at three different grounds: Campbelltown Stadium (20,527), Telstra Stadium (29,542) and Leichhardt Oval (22,877).

After a slow start, bookmakers rated the Tigers a 150–1 chance to win the premiership. [6] However the club emerged from the bottom half of the table to win a club-record eight in a row before finishing fourth. The team developed a reputation as a flamboyant attacking team who played at a rapid pace to compensate a lack of forward size.

The Tigers played their first ever final as a joint venture club at Telstra Stadium against North Queensland Cowboys. Backed by a passionate crowd the team won 50–6. They then beat the Brisbane Broncos 34–6 and premiership favourites St George Illawarra Dragons 20–12 to book a spot against the Cowboys.

Based on their winning form (they had won 11 of their last 13) and their big win over the Cowboys in the opening finals game, the Wests Tigers were rated favourites to win the 2005 grand final. After a slow start, Bryce Gibbs and Pat Richards scored tries to give the Tigers a 12–6 lead. The Richards try was ranked the second best try of all time in the NRL's Centenary of Rugby League 100 Hot Tries survey. [12] The try was started by five-eighth Benji Marshall, who received the ball from Brett Hodgson (after receiving a down field kick) 98 metres from the opposition tryline. He beat Cowboys five-eighth Johnathan Thurston and Matt Sing. Marshall then ran 60 metres, only to be caught by Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen. He made a flick pass to Pat Richards behind his back, who then fended off Rod Jensen to score.

In the second half the Tigers gained control with tries to Anthony Laffranchi and Daniel Fitzhenry. After withstanding a Cowboys fightback, a Todd Payten try on full-time sealed a 30–16 win. Captain Scott Prince was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal for 2005.

The premiership victory meant that the club joined an exclusive group that won premierships in their first finals appearance, which had not been achieved in almost 100 years. The group also includes Souths in 1908 and Newtown in 1910.

At the end of the 2005 season, Wests also signed Malaysian car manufacturer Proton as its major new sponsor on a contract estimated to be worth more than $1 million. [13]

Post grand final failure

Following the premiership win several key players left the club. From the grand final team, Mark O'Neill, and Pat Richards signed with English clubs (Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors respectively). New signings included Jamaal Lolesi (Bulldogs), Keith Galloway (Cronulla Sharks) and Ryan O'Hara (Canberra Raiders).

As defending premiers, the Wests Tigers began the season by travelling to England to play English Super League champions the Bradford Bulls. Missing many of their star players, the Tigers tried hard but were eventually beaten 10–30. After a come from behind win over competition heavyweights St George-Illawarra, the team struggled with injuries to key players. Most notably Benji Marshall and Brett Hodgson missed large portions of the season. The team suffered a number of narrow losses late in games and also two golden point (extra time) matches in controversial circumstances.

The Wests Tigers narrowly missed the finals and the chance to defend their title. One highlight of the season was the debut of several players including Chris Lawrence and the emergence of up and coming players such as Dean Collis. Brett Hodgson played for the New South Wales team in the interstate State of Origin series in all three games. Another highlight was an upset win over eventual premiers the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium where a second-string Tigers team missing Hodgson, Marshall, Whatuira and Gibbs beat the more experienced Broncos 20–6.

Joining the club for the 2007 season was John Morris (ex Parramatta Eels) to replace Scott Prince who signed with the Gold Coast Titans. Other players to leave at the end of the 2006 season were John Skandalis, Anthony Laffranchi and Shane Elford – all members of the 2005 grand final team.

The Wests Tigers had a bad start to the season losing their opening four games by narrow margins. They then had a six-game winning streak to move into the top four. The Tigers' five-eighth Benji Marshall and full-back Brett Hodgson missed the majority of the season with injuries.

The Wests Tigers ended their attempt at a finals berth and finished the season on a loss to the Newcastle Knights, 26–24, at the then-Telstra Stadium.

The following two seasons ended in the same fashion with the Tigers missing out on the finals narrowly in 2008 and 2009 finishing 10th and 9th.

In February 2008, the Wests Tigers announced the extension of Benji Marshall's contract by one year, to the end of 2009. They also announced the signing of Gareth Ellis, the Leeds Rhinos second-rower and international representative, to a three-year deal commencing in 2009. [14]

On an administrative level, in April 2008, CEO Steve Noyce announced he was standing down from his role [15] and was eventually replaced by Scott Longmuir at the end of the 2008 season.

Continued off field troubles

Following the appointment of Scott Longmuir as CEO, there were rumours that Scott and then coach Sheens did not see eye to eye. Longmuir was aligned with then Chair of the board Kevin Hammond (from the Wests side of the JV) in wanting Sheens to focus on the football, and for the office of the CEO to run the club as a business. At the time the financial backing from the three leagues clubs was very minimal, and Longmuir attempted to modernise the management of the club. [16] However, with a majority of the board backing Sheens, Longmuir was eventually removed from his role in April 2009.

On 14 April 2009, Tim Camiler (CEO Balmain Leagues Club) and Andy Timbs (General Manager Wests Ashfield Leagues Club) were appointed temporary joint CEO's of the football club [17]

In June 2009, Stephen Humphreys was announced as the new CEO, beginning his role in July. [18] Humphreys was a life long Balmain Tigers fan, with the appointment brokered by ex-Balmain player, Benny Elias. His first major decision was to ensure continuity on the pitch, maintaining Tim Sheens as Head Coach of the football club.

Return to finals football

In February 2010, the Wests Tigers announced the signing of former Rugby Union star Lote Tuqiri for three years, [19] and the signing of Benji Marshall for a further five. [20]

In 2010 the club finished third in the minor premiership competition, narrowly missing out on a grand final spot after losing to eventual premiers St. George Illawarra Dragons in the preliminary final by one point.

At the end of 2010, it was announced that Meriton had signed a 2-year agreement to become major shirt and club sponsor for the 2011 and 2012 season. [21] This placed the large M logo on the Wests Tigers redesigned shirts for 2 years

2011 was another successful season with the Tigers finishing 4th and making the semi finals yet again, where they were defeated by a late try to the New Zealand Warriors in a loss.

Form slump

Despite being backed as premiership favourites at the start of the season, the Tigers failed to qualify for the finals in the 2012 season finishing 10th. On 25 September 2012, in a press conference CEO Stephen Humphreys and Chairman Dave Trodden announced that Tim Sheens would not be the head coach in 2013 [22] in a restructuring of the club. This came a week after the loss of long-term players Beau Ryan and Chris Heighington to the Cronulla Sharks for the 2013 season, and a poor 2012 season on the field. Heighington had one year on his contract left while a handshake deal with Ryan had been made back in February.

Coach Mick Potter 2013–2014

At the end of the 2012 season, Mick Potter was given the head coaching job on a two-year deal to help rebuild the club. [23]

Success was far from achieved with the Tigers missing out on the finals in the 2013 and 2014 seasons finishing 15th and 13th respectively.

In further upheavel at the club, CEO Stephen Humphreys stepped down from his role [24] in May 2013, with continued boardroom issues cited as a major factor.

In June 2013 Wests Campbelltown sold their shares in the joint venture to Wests Ashfield Leagues, and pulled out of the joint venture. This sale left Balmain Leagues Club and Wests Ashfield Leagues club with 100 shares each in the joint venture

On 26 July, the club announced Grant Meyer had been appointed as CEO [25]

During this period Benji Marshall announced his decision to leave the club at the end of 2013, and signed a deal to play rugby union in New Zealand [26]

The 2014 season was another poor season for the Wests Tigers and there was growing unrest from the club and fans about the results under Mick Potter.

Subsequently following a mid year and end review by Meyer, Mick Potter did not have his coaching contract renewed, with the club issuing a press release confirming his release in September 2014. [27] Potter finished his tenure at the club with a record of 17 wins and 31 losses.

Off field restructure – 2014

In September 2014, with the ongoing financial troubles at Balmain Leagues Club (who by this stage had defaulted on payments to the Wests Tigers) a new shareholder agreement was put into place with the supervision of the NRL. A new seven-person board was nominated with two from Balmain Tigers, two from Wests Leagues and three independents. A new NRL deed was issued along with a new Wests Tigers constitution being drawn up. Mike Bailey continued as chairman of the board of Wests Tigers.

The proposed 7-person board was never ratified, and a reduced board of five was approved by the NRL.

As at 5 September 2014, Wests Tigers Board of Directors consisted of the following: [28]

Marina Go – Chairperson (Independent NRL Appointment),Tony Andreacchio - (Wests Ashfield Leagues Board Member), Simon Cook - (Wests Ashfield Leagues CEO), Lucio Bartololeo - (Independent NRL Appointment), Rosemary Sinclair - (Independent NRL Appointment)

Balmain Leagues Club had no appointed directors due to the club moving into funding default, and were termed "unfinancial shareholders". Balmain were in debt to the NRL to a sum of nearly AU$5 million, which was due to be repaid on 16 March 2016. At the time, it was announced that should Balmain Leagues Club fail to repay the loan, the shares would be considered "in default" and would be placed for sale. The agreement was made that Wests Ashfield Leagues Club would be offered first call to buy all the shares, pay off the NRL debts and become sole owner. If Wests Ashfield declined, the shares could be offered for general sale.

One of the first tasks for the board was to appoint a new club coach. The club moved to appoint Jason Taylor (who had played for Western Suburbs between 1990-93) on 29 September 2014 [29] for the oncoming 2015 season, following guidance of CEO Meyer, and supported by Chair Go. Phil Moss also joined the club as General Manager of Football Operations at the same time.

Coach Jason Taylor 2015–2017

Jason Taylor began the new season with Robbie Farah as captain. The first game of the season started off vs the Gold Coast Titans. A far from convincing performance gave the Tigers a one-point field goal victory coming from the boot of Pat Richards. The season ended with Wests Tigers 15th on the ladder sharing 20 points with the Knights, with Tigers goal difference preventing the wooden spoon.

Off the pitch politics continued through the year with ownership issues still dominating headlines for the football club, with the NRL maintaining its financial interest in the club given the poor state of affairs at Balmain Leagues Club. Adding to the troubles at the club, CEO Grant Meyer tendered his resignation on 15 June 2015 [30]

The club also made headlines with rumours and stories that the club coach and captain were in difference of opinion about how the team should be playing. In August 2015 the club made a statement on their website [31] announcing that Farah had been given permission to speak with other football clubs for the 2016 season.

The new club CEO was announced on 4 September 2015 with Justin Pascoe, previously at Penrith Panthers, appointed to the role.

September 2015 also saw the announcement of a three-year sponsorship agreement with Brydens Lawyers. [32] The three-year multimillion-dollar deal was the largest in the club's history and saw Brydens logo on the front and sleeve of the Wests Tigers jerseys.

The 2016 season started off with Aaron Woods replacing Robbie Farah as club captain, and the club made a promising start to the season with home wins against New Zealand Warriors and Manly Sea Eagles. A string of losses including a 60 points to 6 loss against the Canberra Raiders left the club struggling at the lower end of the table. Off field, the drama surrounding Robbie Farah continued with speculation that he would leave the club by the end of the season.

After a string of mixed results, including two wins against rivals South Sydney, but a poor loss to Newcastle left Wests Tigers 9th on the ladder, a point away from the top 8 at the end of the full season.

The end of the season also saw the Robbie Farah saga concluded, with Farah penning a two-year deal with South Sydney Rabbitohs. [33] Robbie left the club having played 247 games and scoring 61 tries.

Early in the 2017 season, after a pair of heavy defeats to the Penrith Panthers and Canberra Raiders, Taylor was dismissed from his position as head coach. [34]

Assistant Coach Andrew Webster was appointed as caretaker manager whilst the CEO and Board recruited a new full-time replacement.

Off field restructure and new ownership – 2016

2016 also had its watershed moment with the ownership of the football club finally resolved. On 5 May 2016 the club released a statement announcing the restructure of the football club [35]

In an $8.5 million deal, Wests Ashfield Leagues Club assumed majority ownership of the football franchise. As the press statement read "The ownership structure sees Wests move to 75% ownership with Balmain retaining 25% and the Board expanded to nine directors". Wests Ashfield Leagues Club (and by relationship Wests Magpies) has settled all debts owed to the NRL by the Wests Tigers Football club. Balmain Tigers Leagues Club [36] in a separate financial agreement had an outstanding loan and debt to NRL. Wests Ashfield Leagues Club were guarantors of that loan. Note that the loan was not secured against the Wests Tigers Football Club.

The new board had five members appointed from Wests Ashfield, two from Balmain along with two independents.

Coach Ivan Cleary 2017–2018

After a week of rumours in the press on 3 April 2017, it was announced that Ivan Cleary had accepted the role of coach through to the end of the 2020 season [37] with immediate effect, at a press conference held at Wests Ashfield Leagues Club.

During a press conference with Coach Cleary late on in April, a single near throwaway comment was made by Ivan about how he approached his first meeting with the players. He said to the press "I told the players you are either on the bus, or you are off it". [38] This one line became a marketing slogan used through his tenure as coach and the "On The Bus" slogan became used by fans and media alike.

2017 turned out to be a poor one for Wests Tigers on the field with The NRL team finishing in 14th spot, The Under 20s Holden Cup team finishing 2nd to last and The NSW Cup team finishing with the wooden spoon. [39] [40] [41]

In the 2018 NRL season, Wests started off the year with impressive wins over the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne before a mid season slump saw the club only winning 3 out of 10 games between Round 10 and Round 20. Wests would end up finishing in 9th position on the table missing the finals. Their final game of the year was a 51–10 loss against the South Sydney Rabbitohs. [42]

Towards the end of the season, rumours and news swirled around the press and media about Ivan Cleary leaving the Wests Tigers to return to Penrith Panthers.

On 28 October 2018, Wests released coach Ivan Cleary from the final two years of his contract. Cleary also sent a departing text message to the tigers playing group saying "G'day boys I hope this finds you well and enjoying your time off, I was writing to you in the hope of beating the press.. to let you know that I will no longer be your coach at Wests Tigers. This is an extremely uncomfortable situation for me as I have genuine fondness for the club, and I have loved coaching you all.. I understand that this situation has caused some pain for people that I care about, along with putting the club in an awkward situation... I do not feel good about this. I would have preferred to do this in person but time and circumstances have made that impossible. I hope we meet again soon and I wish you all the very best in the future. You have my number and I am always open for a chat if you wish. Iv". [43]

Coach Michael Maguire from 2019

With the signs that Cleary was leaving the club, a search was underway for his replacement. The same day the club announced Cleary's departure Michael Maguire was announced as coach through to the end of 2021. [44] One of Michael Maguires early decisions at the club following the Christmas break was to remove the "co-captain" arrangement and appoint Moses MBye as the club's sole and only captain. [45]

Under the guidance of Maguire, Wests Tigers football club has changed the team's slogan. "On the Bus" was replaced with "This is Our Jungle" for the 2019 season.

Salary cap breaches

On 19 December 2018 the NRL Integrity Unit under the guidance of the NRL CEO Todd Greenburg announced the Wests Tigers had been found to have fraudulently and intentionally breached the NRL Salary Cap. Greenburg announced that when playmaker Robbie Farah was released to the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2016, CEO Justin Pascoe had offered to employ Farah back at the club on his retirement from football in return for Robbie agreeing to leave without incident. Despite Farah never accepting this position, and despite this story being broadcast in the media at the time, the NRL Integrity Unit decided that this offer was a sufficient incentive for Robbie to leave, it should have been formally lodged with the NRL. This was constituted a serious breach of the salary cap. The football club was fined $750,000, include the alleged salary offered to Robbie of $639,000 to the 2019 salary cap and CEO Pascoe was advised it was the intention of the NRL to de-register the experienced sports administrator from ever managing a club in the NRL. [46]

The football club appealed this decision, and on 1 March 2019 the NRL backtracked on the position from December 2018 and halved the fine to $350,000, allowed the club to split the $639,000 of the cap breach over seasons 2019 and 2020 and CEO Justin Pascoe would be stood down for 6 months only (backdated to the original date of 19 December 2018). [47]

In the interim, Wests Ashfield CEO, Simon Cook, assumed the role of interim CEO at the football club, and temporarily stood down from his position on the football club board. Head of Football Kelly Egan left the club prior to Pascoe's return as did chairman Marino Go and Chief Operating Officer Ryan Webb.

Justin Pascoe was re-instated back to his role as CEO on 26 June 2019 [48]

Change of chair of the board

On 12 March 2019 [49] the club announced to the media and press that former NSW State Premier Barry O'Farrell had been appointed as Chair of the Board of Directors, replacing Marina Go, who had come to the end of her tenure.

Season 2019

The 2019 NRL season began with the knowledge that the club would take occupancy in the newly constructed Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta. Four home games were allocated to this exciting new venue. The opening game of the season was played in wet conditions at Leichhardt Oval in front of 13,000 fans, with the team victors 20–6 against a poor Manly Sea Eagles team. A second round win against the free running New Zealand Warriors a week later in front of nearly 10,000 fans in Campbelltown again in wet conditions was a good start to the season. In round 6 against the Parramatta Eels, Wests played in the first NRL game at the new Western Sydney Stadium which ended in the club losing 51–6. [50]

Wests Tigers took another "home" game on the road in 2019, with a match hosted in Scully Park in Tamworth. Nearly 10,000 fans turned out to watch Wests run out 30–14 victors over lower placed Gold Coast Titans.

The first home game of the season at the newly named BankWest stadium was held on Friday 7 June against the Canberra Raiders. The 0–28 result in front of 12,000 supporters lent some fans to make the comment "This is not our jungle".

Wests Tigers playmaker, Benji Marshall, played his 300th game in the NRL on 14 July at BankWest stadium in front of more than 25,000 fans. Wests lost the game 30–18 against the Parramatta Eels.

In round 25 against Cronulla-Sutherland, Wests went into the game knowing that whoever won the match would be guaranteed a finals spot as both teams came into the last game of the year on equal points. Wests would end up losing the match 25–8 at a packed Leichhardt Oval which was also retiring Robbie Farah's final game. The loss also meant that this was the sixth time that Wests had finished ninth since the joint venture started in 2000. [51] [52]

Change of chair of the board

On 13 November 2019 the club announced Lee Hagipantelis had been appointed Chair of the Board of the football club. Whilst Mr O'Farrell had only been with the club for a short while, he resigned his post to take up the position of Ambassador to India for Australia.

Lee Hagipantelis is the Principal of Wests Tigers shirt sponsor, Brydens Lawyers.

Season 2020

The new season was kicked off with an away game against St. George Illawarra at WIN Stadium in Wollongong. Wests Tigers ran out 24-14 victors against the Red V. The season was interrupted with the global pandemic Covid-19 following the opening round, with all games being placed on hiatus.

When the shortened NRL season recommenced, all games were played initially behind closed doors. Wests played six matches with no fans able to visit the stadia to watch the games. Fans were re-admitted in limited numbers in round 8 with Wests Tigers losing to Penrith in front of 5000 fans at Bankwest Stadium.

2020 wasn't a great year for the club on the pitch, eventually fading away to 11th position, with only seven wins and thirteen losses. The club also set a new unwanted record being the first side since the competition began in 1908 to concede 24 points or more in a game for ten consecutive matches. [53]

On 18 August [54] Chris Lawrence announced he would be retiring from the Wests Tigers and from Rugby League as a player. Lawrence retired having played 253 games for the club, and having scored 84 tries

On 1 September [55] the club announced that Benji Marshall would not be playing on into 2021. This announcement was seen by many fans as deplorable and a petition [56] soon garnered almost 10,000 signatures by fans, with Benji later claiming that he heard about this news via the press, not from the club. [57] Marshall left the club having played 257 games over two stints at the club scoring 84 tries.

Player swap 2020

The 2020 NRL season at Wests Tigers was also memorable for the first of its kind "player swap". Melbourne hooker Harry Grant and Wests Tigers centre, Paul Momirovski swapped club's [58] for the 2020 season. The deal, brokered by Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy and Wests coach Michael Maguire, was the first of its kind within the NRL modern era game. The two players swapped playing clubs for the remainder of the 2020 NRL season.

Share ownership update

On 2 October 2020 the Amalgamation of Wests Ashfield Leagues Club and Balmain Tigers Leagues Club was cemented. As per the Deed of Amalgamation, this changed the ownership structure of the club to effectively be 90% Wests Ashfield, 10% Balmain Tigers.

Season 2021

The 2021 NRL season opened with fresh hope for Wests Tigers fans. With a number of new signings at the club including Jimmy "The Jet" Roberts, and Daine Laurie in as fullback, the club moved Adam Doueihi to Number 6 to partner Luke Brooks in the halves, with Jacob Liddle coming in as hooker.

The first five rounds however were not a great success, with the club picking up only two points with a win over Newcastle. In round 4 of the 2021 NRL season against Parramattta at Stadium Australia, the match recorded the highest attendance at a Rugby League game so far in 2021 with an official attendance of 29,056. [59]

In round 5 of the competition, there was a lot of emotion at Leichhardt Oval, with the club paying tribute following the death of Western Suburbs legend, Tommy Raudonikis. The #7 jersey was retired for the game in memorium, [60] with Luke Brooks running out in #22. The game itself was more known for the team being booed off by fans at half time, trailing the un-fancied North Queensland Cowboys 28-6. [61] The game ended up 34-30 to North Queensland with Wests Tigers rallying in the second half.

April 2021 also saw a minor change to the Board of Directors of the football club, with Mick Liubinskas being replaced by Julie Romero. Like Mick, Julie was a nominee by Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, a director of that leagues club and a Wests Ashfield Debenture holder.

In round 9 of the 2021 NRL season, the club played at Campbelltown Sports Ground and they wore specially designed jerseys as part of a celebration into the life of Tommy Raudonikis OAM. [62] The match ball was delivered onto the pitch by Tommy's partner, Trish. Wests Tigers lost the game against the Gold Coast 36-28.

In June 2021, it was announced that Premiership winning coach, Tim Sheens, would be returning to the club in the capacity of Head of Football Performance [63] focussing on pathways, development and talent identification.

The Wests Tigers finished the 2021 NRL season in 13th place after an awful season which saw them only win three times in the last eleven games. In the final round of the season, Wests were defeated 38-0 by Wooden Spooners Canterbury-Bankstown. After this point, there were talks that head coach Michael Maguire was to be terminated from his position but on 21 September it was announced he would be kept on as head coach for the 2022 season. [64] [65]

Ownership, board and corporate governance

Wests Tigers are a joint venture, which was formed between Wests Magpies and Balmain Tigers football clubs.

Western Suburbs Leagues Club Ltd

With an operating club known as Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, the club building is located on Liverpool Road, Ashfield. The club is the primary financial donor to the Wests Tigers rugby league franchise outside of the revenue provided by the NRL. From 2014 was the only Leagues Club which directly subsidized the Wests Tigers Rugby League franchise. [66]

Balmain Tigers Rugby League Football Club Ltd

A foundation club of the NSWRFL, Balmain Tigers Rugby League Football Club was established on 23 January 1908 at Balmain Town Hall. The club has competed in the NSWRL competitions for 110 years, winning 11 first grade premierships.

Also operating a club known as Balmain Leagues Club, the operating business was built in 1957. The original site was situated on the corner of Victoria Road and Darling Street, Rozelle. The club was the venue for a celebration party after Wests Tigers won the NRL Premiership in 2005.

The Leagues Club closed its doors on 28 March 2010, with the former club site now vacant after receiving a notice to vacate the site to make way for the proposed Rozelle Village development to go ahead.

Balmain Leagues Club entered voluntary administration on 26 October 2018. [67]

In September 2019 members of both Balmain Leagues Club and Wests Ashfield Leagues club voted almost unanimously for an amalgamation to take place. Once ratified by office of Liquor and Gaming, Balmain Leagues Club ceased to exist. [68] [69]

Former Clubs

Wests Campbelltown

Wests Leagues Club is located in Leumeah, next door to Campbelltown Stadium, one of the Wests Tigers home grounds. Wests Campbelltown Leagues was established in 1987 when Wests Ashfield Leagues purchased the former Campbelltown City Kangaroos Club.

In 1996, Wests Ashfield Leagues Club and Wests Campbelltown Leagues Club became separate entities.

Wests Campbelltown Leagues Club is no longer involved in the Wests Tigers

Board of Directors

As at 15 April 2021, the Wests Tigers Board of Directors consisted of the following: [70]

Independent Board Members:

Appointed by Wests Magpies:

Appointed by Balmain Tigers:

All board members have a single vote each.

The club secretary is Mark Sawicki (Wests Tigers Football Club CFO)

Ownership structure

As at 8 Oct 2020:

Wests Magpies Pty Ltd is a jointly owned legal entity:

Note 1: WSDRLFC is a controlled entity of Wests Ashfield Leagues Club

Stadium

The Wests Tigers do not have a single home stadium but play at a number of grounds each year.

The recurrent used homes grounds have been Campbelltown Sports Stadium and Leichhardt Oval. These grounds are around 50 km apart and are in Magpie and Tiger territories respectively. Other home games have previously been played at the Sydney Football Stadium and Stadium Australia. In 2019 Wests Tigers took the first of their home games to the brand new Western Sydney Stadium.

From 2004 until 2006, a "home game" was played at AMI Stadium against the Auckland based New Zealand Warriors. This agreement was not renewed for 2007 and in that year a game was played at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford against Melbourne Storm. In 2008, one home game was played at the Sydney Cricket Ground as part of the Centenary of Rugby League celebrations, and also one game at the Sydney Football Stadium. In 2018, one home game was played at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland as part of a double header at the venue. In 2019 a home game was played at Scully Park in Tamworth. A second home game in Tamworth was planned for May 2020, however was postponed due to the ongoing Covid outbreak.

Stadiums used by the Wests Tigers as home grounds:

Present:

Other:

Former:

Colours

The club's name and logo are a combination of the two partners. The uniform colours are a combination of the black and white of the Western Suburbs Magpies uniform and the black and gold from the Balmain Tigers uniform. The logo combines a modern "in your face" Tiger with a traditional Wests 'V' in the background. There is also a Magpie (taken from the Western Suburbs Logo) on both sleeves of the Jersey.

In 2009, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the joint venture, a predominantly white strip with a gold 'V' was unveiled. [71]

Supporters

Some notable supporters of the club include Russell Arnold, [72] Jimmy Barnes, [73] Ash Barty [74] Tim Cahill, Paul Murray, [72] Jimmy Little, [75] Michael Clarke, [76] Vic Darchinyan, [72] Anthony Field, [77] Dawn Fraser, [78] Daniel Geale, [72] Julie Goodwin, [79] Barry O'Farrell [80] Jordan Thompson, [81] and Harry Triguboff, [82]

Kit sponsors and manufacturers

YearKit ManufacturerMain Shirt SponsorBack SponsorsSleeve SponsorsShorts Sponsors
2021 Steeden Brydens Lawyers Brydens Lawyers

Major Partner

Premier Partners

Platinum Partners

Gold Partners

Corporate Partners

Player's Club sponsors

Season statistics

SeasonPosPldWDLBFA+/-PtsNotesCrowd*
2000 10th2611213N/A519642−12324 Wests Tigers 2000 12,124
2001 12th269116N/A474746−27219 Wests Tigers 2001 9,294
2002 13th2470172498642−14418 Wests Tigers 2002 10,478
2003 13th2470172470598−12818 Wests Tigers 2003 11,995
2004 9th24100142509534−2524 Wests Tigers 2004 16,597
2005 4th2414010267657510132Premiers
Wests Tigers 2005
19,379
2006 11th24100142490565−7524 Wests Tigers 2006 19,266
2007 9th24110131541561−2024 Wests Tigers 2007 16,961
2008 10th24110132528560−3226 Wests Tigers 2008 16,452
2009 9th241201225584837528 Wests Tigers 2009 17,943
2010 3rd24150925375033434 Wests Tigers 2010 18,086
2011 4th24150925194308934 Wests Tigers 2011 17,852
2012 10th24110132506551−4526 Wests Tigers 2012 16,227
2013 15th2470172386687−30118 Wests Tigers 2013 11,452
2014 13th24100142420631−21124 Wests Tigers 2014 13,104
2015 15th2480162487562−7520 Wests Tigers 2015 11,709
2016 9th24110132499607−10826 Wests Tigers 2016 15,390
2017 14th2470172413571−15818 Wests Tigers 2017 13,551
2018 9th24120121377460−8326 Wests Tigers 2018 17,291
2019 9th24110131475486−1124 Wests Tigers 2019 15,867
2020 11th2070130440505−6514 Wests Tigers 2020 4,381
2021 13th2480161500714−21418 Wests Tigers 2021 9,526

* Average home crowd

Finals Appearances

3 (2005, 2010, 2011)

2021 squad

Top 30 Squad - 2021 SeasonDevelopment PlayersCoaching Staff

Head coach

Assistant coaches

  • Shane Millard (Assistant)
  • Wayne Collins (Assistant)
  • Andrew Gray (High Performance Manager)
  • Matthew Jay (High Performance Coach)
  • Aaron Sculli (Performance Coach)

Legend:
  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice captain(s)

Updated: 6 August 2021
Source(s): Tigers Team Profiles

2021 Signings and transfers

Gains

Out

Players

Representative players

Statistics and records

Robbie Farah holds the record for most appearances for The Wests Tigers with 277. Having played in every game of the 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011 seasons. [84]

The highest point-scorers for the club have been players who have undertaken goalkicking duties for a period. Benji Marshall has scored the most points for the club (1181), followed by Brett Hodgson (786), and Joel Caine (526). [84] In 2005, Hodgson scored a record 308 points during the season, the most points ever scored by a fullback in one season. In the semis of 2005, he also scored 30 points in one match against the North Queensland Cowboys. [84]

David Nofoaluma has the most tries for the Wests Tigers, accumulating 87. Taniela Tuiaki scored a club-record 21 tries during the 2009 season. [85]

Wests Tigers "Team of the Century"

The Wests Tigers Team of the Century was announced in 2004, encompassing the best players from both Balmain and Western Suburbs. Nine Balmain players and eight from Western Suburbs made up the 17 members of the team. [86]

Wests Tigers' Team of the Century
First team squadReservesCoaching staff

Head coach



Legend:
  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice captain(s)

Updated: 2004
Source(s): [86]

Captains

There have been 23 captains of the Tigers since their first season in 2000. The current captain is James Tamou.

NoCaptainYearsGames
1 Jarrod McCracken 20006
2 Darren Senter 2000–200486
3 Terry Hill 2000–20022
4 Craig Field 20002
5 John Simon 20012
6 Ben Galea 2001–20067
7 Mark O'Neill 2002–200519
8 Corey Pearson 20021
9 Scott Sattler 20048
10 Scott Prince 2005–200629
11 Brett Hodgson 2006–200850
12 Todd Payten 2007–20099
13 Robbie Farah 2007–2016, 2019149
14 Benji Marshall 2009–2013, 2018–202035
15 Braith Anasta 20145
16 Chris Lawrence 2014–201814
17 Aaron Woods 2014–201746
18 Dene Halatau 2015–20168
19 Elijah Taylor 20171
20 Russell Packer 20185
21 Moses Mbye 2019–202032
22 James Tamou 2021–19
23 Luke Brooks 2021–5

Coaches

There have been 8 coaches of the Tigers since their first season in 2000. The current coach is Michael Maguire.

NoNameSeasonsGamesWinsDrawsLossesWin %PremiersRunners-upMinor premiersWooden spoonsNotes
1 Wayne Pearce 2000261121342.3%
2 Terry Lamb 2001–2002501613332%
3 Tim Sheens 2003–2012249122012749% 2005 Club's first finals appearance and premiership in 2005
4 Mick Potter 2013–2014481703135%
5 Jason Taylor 2015–2017512003139%Sacked mid-season
6 Andrew Webster 201720020%Caretaker coach
7 Ivan Cleary 2017–2018431802542%
8 Michael Maguire 2019–682604238.23%Incumbent coach

Honours

2005

Pre-season/Youth

2004
2011
2012

See also

Related Research Articles

Balmain Tigers Australian rugby league football club

The Balmain Tigers are a rugby league club based in the inner-western Sydney suburb of Balmain. They were a founding member of the New South Wales Rugby League and one of the most successful in the history of the premiership, with eleven titles. In 1999 they formed a joint venture club with the Western Suburbs Magpies club to form the Wests Tigers for competition in the National Rugby League (NRL). They no longer field any senior teams in the lower divisions. At the time of the joint venture only South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Dragons had won more titles than the Tigers.

Western Suburbs Magpies Australian rugby league club, based in Sydney, NSW

The Western Suburbs Magpies is an Australian rugby league football club based in the western suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales. Formed in 1908, Wests, as they are commonly referred to, were one of the nine foundation clubs of the first New South Wales Rugby League competition in Australia. The club, as a sole entity, departed the top-flight competition in 1999 after forming a 50–50 joint venture with Balmain Tigers to form the Wests Tigers. The club currently fields sides in the NSW State Cup, Ron Massey Cup (Opens), S.G. Ball Cup and Harold Matthews Cup competitions.

The 2005 NRL Grand Final was the conclusive and premiership-deciding game of the National Rugby League's 2005 Telstra Premiership season. It was played on the night of Sunday, 2 October at Sydney's Telstra Stadium between the Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys, the only two clubs in the competition that hadn't yet been to the NRL grand final. The game set a new record for the highest television audience in Australia for a rugby league match since the introduction of the OzTam ratings system in 2001.

Leichhardt Oval

Leichhardt Oval is a rugby league and soccer stadium in Lilyfield, New South Wales, Australia. It is currently one of three home grounds for the Wests Tigers National Rugby League (NRL) team, along with Campbelltown Stadium and Western Sydney Stadium. Prior to its merger with the Western Suburbs Magpies, it was the longtime home of the Balmain Tigers, who used the ground from 1934–1994 and 1997–1999.

Campbelltown Stadium

Campbelltown Stadium, formerly Orana Park and Campbelltown Sports Ground, is a multi-use stadium in Leumeah, New South Wales, Australia, owned by Campbelltown City Council. It is the full-time home ground for the Western Suburbs Magpies District Rugby league Football Club and is one of three home grounds for the Wests Tigers Rugby league Football Club. The stadium has a nominal capacity of 20,000, with a recorded highest crowd figure of 20,527 for a game between Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys in the 2005 NRL season. It is located adjacent to Leumeah railway station and Wests Leagues Club.

Benji Marshall New Zealand rugby league and rugby union footballer

Benji Marshall is a New Zealand professional rugby league footballer who plays at five-eighth or halfback for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL and for New Zealand at international level.

Mark ONeill (rugby league) Australian rugby league footballer

Mark O'Neill is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1990s and 2000s. He played in Australia for the Balmain Tigers, then the Wests Tigers following the joint venture of Balmain and the Western Suburbs Magpies, and in England for the Leeds Rhinos and the Hull Kingston Rovers in the Super League. O'Neill's usually played as a second-row.

Brett Hodgson Australian professional RL coach and former pro rugby league footballer

Brett Hodgson is an Australian rugby league coach who is the head coach of Hull FC in the Super League and a former professional player who played in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.

Liam Fulton Former Australian rugby league footballer

Liam Mark Fulton, also known by the nickname of "Bozo", is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 2000s and 2010s. He played for the Wests Tigers in the National Rugby League (NRL) competition. Fulton primarily played at lock. Considered to be a jokester, known for making prank phone calls, Fulton was also a noted clubman. Former team-mate Benji Marshall described him as, "not the biggest, he's not the strongest in the gym, he doesn't look athletic with his shirt off. He weighs only 96 kilograms. But he puts that body on the line every week, he makes his tackles and I have never played with a second-rower who runs a better line. He is so talented."

Ben Galea Australian rugby league footballer

Ben Galea is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer. A City New South Wales representative forward, he previously played in Australasia's National Rugby League for the Balmain Tigers and the Wests Tigers and also for English club the Hull Kingston Rovers and Hull F.C. of Super League.

Jason Taylor (rugby league) Australian rugby league footballer and coach

Jason Taylor is an Australian professional rugby league football coach and a former professional rugby league footballer who played as a halfback in the 1990s and 2000s.

Kevin McGuinness is an Indigenous Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1990s, and 2000s. He played for Salford City Reds in the Super League, the Western Suburbs Magpies, Wests Tigers and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in the Australian National Rugby League (NRL) competition. His position of choice is at centre.

Robbie Farah Australia & Lebanon international rugby league footballer

Robert Peter Farah is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 2000s and 2010s. An Australian international, Lebanese international and captain of New South Wales Blues team, he has played the majority of his professional career with the Wests Tigers, with whom he won the 2005 NRL Premiership. Between 2006 and 2012, Farah played for City in six City vs Country representative games, captaining the team from 2009 onwards. He played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs during the 2017 and 2018 National Rugby League seasons.

Shannon Gallant Australian rugby league footballer

Shannon Gallant is an Australian rugby league footballer. He has played in the NRL for the North Queensland Cowboys and the Wests Tigers. He primarily plays as a fullback and is known for his speed and small stature.

The history of the Wests Tigers goes back to the merger of the Western Suburbs Magpies and Balmain Tigers which took place in 2000.

2009 Wests Tigers season

The 2009 Wests Tigers season was the tenth in the joint-venture club's history. They competed in the NRL's 2009 Telstra Premiership and finished the season 9th, only just missing out on a place in the finals series.

The 1999 Melbourne Storm season was the second in the club's history. Coached by Chris Anderson and captained by Glenn Lazarus, they competed in the National Rugby League's 1999 season, finishing the regular season in 3rd out of 17 teams. Melbourne reached the 1999 NRL Grand Final and defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons, claiming their first premiership.

Mark Stimson is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played for the Balmain Tigers and Wests Tigers in the 1990s and 2000s.Stimson played in the Turvey Park Lions premiership team in 1993.

Corey Thompson Australian rugby league footballer

Corey Thompson is an Australian professional rugby league footballer who plays as a winger and fullback for the Gold Coast Titans in the NRL.

Lincoln Raudonikis is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1990s. He played for the Western Suburbs Magpies in the NRL.

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