Tigers' next generation look to NRL in 2012

While a devastating and controversial finish ruined what many people believed to be the Tigers' year, there is plenty to be excited about for 2012 in Tigertown.

Along with the NRL team’s strong finish, the NYC team made the semi finals, and one of the club’s two feeder sides, Balmain Ryde-Eastwood, also played finals football, and they had plenty of representative players throughout the grades. With Tim Sheens’ noted ability to grow a young superstar, there are plenty of chances for young players at the Tigers.

We take a look at two players who could find themselves in the NRL spotlight in 2012.

Matt Groat

Groat made his debut in unusual circumstances, joining the bench late in round 12 after playing in the NYC game when Wade McKinnon twinged a hamstring during the warm-up. He then played in eight of the Tigers record breaking nine-game winning streak, cementing his spot ahead of the departing Andrew Fifita, and never looked back.

Another product of St Gregorys College at Campbelltown and a 2011 Junior Kangaroo, Groat has the power and leg-speed to be a successful front rower in the NRL, as well as a tremendous work ethic.

With Bryce Gibbs and the aforementioned Fifita both moving to Cronulla in 2012, and veteran forward Todd Payten retiring, there are forward spots aplenty at the Tigers next season. With a bench spot locked down, Groat will be out to push fellow Tiger cub Aaron Woods for the starting spot alongside Kangaroo Keith Galloway.

James Tedesco

While not as talked about as some of the other Tiger cubs from the NYC, Tedesco has just as much potential. A fullback in the Brett Hodgson mould, Tedesco won the Tigers NYC Coaches Award this season after coming into the side following a successful campaign with the Wests Magpies SG Ball team.

His speed, agility and support play are something the Tigers have been missing since Hodgson’s departure, with the fullbacks who’ve followed unable to replicate the premiership winner’s endearing qualities.

With Tim Moltzen also moving on this year, Tedesco is likely to get a shot at the first grade spot at some point, but with two years left in the NYC competition, he still has plenty of time on his side. With players like Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah creating the magic, Tedesco could be the x-factor they’ve been looking for to back it up and finish it off.