2013 State of Play: Tigers
Nigel Wall, NRL.com Wed, Dec 05, 2012 - 9:00 AM
There is no sugar-coating that season 2012 was one of major underachievement for the Tigers, but with a new coach anything is possible in 2013.
Strengths: A change under incoming coach Mick Potter will be as good as a holiday for the Tigers whose morale and on-field cohesiveness have been dented by significant bloodletting over the past two years.
The new coach has already signalled his intension to be more inclusive in team selections, allowing star playmaker Benji Marshall to select his jersey number. Mostly a halfback in 2012, Marshall has jumped at the chance to return to five-eighth where traditionally he has proven most dangerous. (This will have a flow-on effect for the likes of new recruit Braith Anasta, who is destined for the back row, plus emerging talent Curtis Sironen who may battle to secure a spot in the 17.)
There’s no telling what damage Marshall may inflict with more room to move every week: he was the benchmark attacker in the league last year, leading all-comers for try assists (35) and line-break assists (32). There will be healthy competition for the No.1 jersey between boom youngster James Tedesco, whose 2012 season was cut short after just one outing, and Tim Moltzen. Moltzen could also be a contender for the No.7 jersey along with 20-year-old Jacob Miller who is ready for the next step after dalliances in the top grade over the past two seasons.
The emergence of exciting winger Marika Koroibete is sure to snap Lote Tuqiri into full focus as he winds down his career, while ex-Rabbitoh Eddy Pettybourne will thrive alongside fellow aggressive forward Adam Blair. And take it as read that Blair will command headlines for his gusto in 2013, unlike the brickbats that accompanied his timid 2012.
Weaknesses: While Chris Lawrence holds a mortgage on one centre position (most likely left) the Tigers need to find a dependable option on the other side of the field after chewing through the likes of Beau Ryan, Blake Ayshford, Joel Reddy and even Matt Utai in 2012.
Overall the Tigers’ inability to field consistent combinations played havoc with their defensive structures, with the side leaking the most line-breaks by any team each week (six) as well as the third-most missed tackles per game (36).
New coach Potter knows he needs to avoid switching personnel as much as possible in 2013. Crucially the Tigers need to find a way to grind out more territory each week, after exiting 2012 with the second-fewest metres per game. While much of that lies with the forwards they also need to improve the depth of their kicking game which yielded the fourth-fewest metres all season.