Wests Tigers' mid-season review
A hat-trick of inspired home victories over heavyweights South Sydney, Manly and North Queensland has justified the club's belief that they will not simply be making up the numbers in 2014.
Ladder position: 7th.
Overview: With building blocks like Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses still in their moulds when the summer began, the metaphorical clock was ticking on Mick Potter's tenure at Concord long before the season kicked off.
But a brash and bullish Tigers squad has proven the old adage, 'If you're good enough, you're old enough' rings true, upsetting some big guns on their way to seventh spot on the NRL ladder and shelving any thoughts of 2014 being written off as a rebuilding year.
A hat-trick of inspired home victories over perennial heavyweights South Sydney, Manly and North Queensland has justified the club's belief that they house a once-in-a-generation school of youngsters, one that will pry open a premiership window sooner rather than later.
For now though, there is still plenty of work to be done. Negotiating a casualty ward that never gets empty, as well as a second half of the season that includes stern tests against the Bulldogs twice, the Sea Eagles, Storm, Cowboys and Roosters, top the list.
The fact that the only clock on Potter's watch is the one that leads to another contract however, has already made this season more than a mere waiting game for their school kids.
Positives: Brooks' steady development (10 try assists, seven line break assists) as chief playmaker has once and for all quashed any doubts over the club's decision to let go franchise face Benji Marshall last season, with the only question surrounding how long it takes for the halfback to reach Origin-level status.
Skipper Robbie Farah (six try assists, eight line break assists) is already there, making a case as the hottest player in the NRL before an elbow injury sidelined him for three weeks, while the form of role players Pat Richards, James Tedesco and Martin Taupau isn't to be sneezed at either.
Potter has instilled a line speed that forces 12.2 errors from their opposition a game (second most), while their running game also forces 30.6 missed tackles (second most).
Negatives: They're eagerness in defence comes at a price – they're the second most penalised team in the competition and the repeat sets are giving teams more opportunities to break the line. In fact, only the suffering Raiders open their defensive gates more often than the Tigers.
Key figures Tedesco, Curtis Sironen and Farah have all had extended stints on the sideline, as has forward lynchpin Liam Fulton. Their resurgence has also masked five-eighth Braith Anasta's struggles, with the veteran tallying more errors than try assists and line break assists combined thus far.
Biggest Moment: The 16,311 hearty souls who braved the elements at Leichhardt Oval back in early April were rewarded with a similar effort from their team, one that inspired a 34-18 victory over Manly. James Tedesco's backflip on his lucrative deal with Canberra could also prove to be one of the biggest moments in the club's history.
NRL.com prediction: Having jumped on the ladder predictor we see the Tigers finishing around 28 points and fighting for a spot in the bottom of the top eight.