Against the Roosters they were outmatched in almost every facet of the game and although I had my reservations about the Tigers, sitting on the fence waiting to be convinced one way or another, I now have both feet firmly planted in the glass is half empty category.
The Tigers forward pack seems undersized and lacking enough go forward to consistently challenge the top teams for 80 minutes. Make no mistake, Gareth Ellis is a huge loss for the Tigers and to a lesser extent, Chris Heighington. Aaron Woods will provide some thrust up the middle but I’m not sure it will be enough. Keith Galloway looks mean with a few tatts but that’s not going to cut it. The Tigers are still feeling the loss of Bryce Gibbs and Andrew Fifita along with the premature retirement of Simon Dwyer.
I also have reservations over the quality of the Tigers outside backs. Centres Chris Lawrence and Blake Ayshford looked outclassed against the Roosters. Chris Lawrence looks much slower after injuries to his hip and knee over the past couple of season and speed was his x factor. Ayshford looks to be mediocre at best. He has neither the speed or the size to be a game breaker. He is by no means a bad player, just not a game changer.
Fullback seems to be a contentious position for the Tigers and they have no one who can return the ball effectively like the top teams. The NRL’s most maligned player in Tim Moltzen will probably start the season as the custodian for the Tigers but he is a poor mans Scott Mahon!
Yes the Tigers still have Marshall and Farah but it has been eight seasons since the Tigers tasted premiership glory and both Marshall and Farah are now entering the latter stages of their career. Are their best days behind them? Hard to tell but they don’t seem to be as explosive as they were a few season back.
The Tigers have added Braith Anasta and from what I saw on Saturday night, I’m not sure he will provide the spark the Tigers need in the pack to get them holding the line in defence and getting over the advantage line in attack. Eddy Pettybourne has also joined the club and should provide some use off the bench.
The main bright spot for the Tigers is on the wing and no, I am not talking about Matt Utai. I am talking about Marika Koroibete. This man can fly. I think he would currently be the fastest man in the NRL by a decent margin. Every time he runs the ball, even from dummy half, he is chewing up the metres. He represents hope for the Tigers and if used effectively, should score somewhere between 15-20 tries this season.
The biggest disadvantage the Tigers have is Adam Blair. He played lock on Saturday night and seemed to be more worried about his hairstyle than what was going on in the middle of the field. I make no apology for my dislike of Adam Blair. He is a mediocre player who is lazy, ineffective and dirty. He may have looked good when he was with Melbourne, but since he joined the Tigers he has been exposed as a fraud. A hack! He gets paid top dollar and produces nothing close to that on the field and represents no value for money whatsoever.
Make no mistake, Beau Ryan’s loss will also be felt by the Tigers. He was a leader off the field in much the same way Bryce Gibbs was for the many years he was at the Tigers.
Mick Potter certainly has a challenge in his first year as an NRL coach. I think the Tigers will have a few unexpected victories but I think the time of Marshall and Farah is fast coming to a close.
2013 prediction – 12th