Tigers' gamble will pay off: Brown
They may find themselves mired at the bottom of the ladder by the time Round 17 draws to a close but the Wests Tigers will be rewarded for putting their faith in a group of young playmakers according to former Dragons coach Nathan Brown in this week's issue of Big League.
With the Knights having the bye, a win by the Sea Eagles over the Sharks would leave the Tigers needing to win their clash with the Eels on Monday night to avoid the dreaded 16th spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
It's a position no club wants to be win but the continued development of young halves Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses along with dynamic fullback James Tedesco should ensure their fortunes go on an upward trend in the near future.
Praising the Tigers' willingness to invest in youth first under Mick Potter and now Jason Taylor, Brown believes other clubs should be bold enough to gamble on youth rather than relying on the tried and true.
"I hope the clubs who are looking for halves for next season are ready to take a punt on 'Generation Next'," Brown says in the Round 17 issue of Big League.
"The Wests Tigers have accepted they’re in a rebuilding stage. While they’d like to have a senior figure at fullback or in their halves, they’ve decided that James Tedesco, Mitch Moses and Luke Brooks are the players to deliver success.
"It might be hurting now, but they’ll be much further down the track in a couple of years compared to teams who place a makeshift five-eighth alongside a developing halfback.
"It's something the Titans have done with Kane Elgey. He's taken time to learn, but after a few months he's been creating more tries than a number of his more experienced competitors. With many of these kids you don’t know how good they’ll be until their coach has given them a chance in first grade."
Having missed out on Daly Cherry-Evans and allowed Aidan Sezer to sign with the Raiders, the Titans are now down on options in their search for a halves partner for the inexperienced Elgey.
Much debate in recent years has centred on a perceived lack of depth in the playmaking stocks in the game today and Brown said it is imperative that individual skills are encouraged and not at the expense of a 'system'.
"Whichever clubs continue the growth of those under-20s halves, it's important that they have a coach who can work with individual styles and doesn't turn them into machines," said Brown.
"Young halves used to learn by throwing and kicking footballs around the local park and in their mates' backyards. Now they go to coaching clinics that try to replicate what's happening in senior grades or his junior coach puts the Melbourne Storm or Bulldogs type of structure in place and this is in no way has a positive effect on developing a young half.
"This is affecting their long-term ability to read the game, count numbers and develop combinations with their fellow half.
"Most young halves are educated to play certain structures even at a young age.
"There's nothing wrong with guiding a young half, but it’s important that they’re taught a style that suits them, not a robot copy of a current NRL half."
The Round 17 issue of Big League is on sale now at newsagents and at the ground. Digital version also available through Zinio.