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Random Tigers articles from the media


The best league facility on the planet: Inside the Wests Tigers’ new $78m home
By Michael Chammas
August 14, 2022 — 4.55pm

After a decade of disappointment, the Wests Tigers will finally take a gigantic step into the 21st century when they walk into their new centre of excellence in Concord for the first time on Monday morning.

On the eve of its opening, the Herald was given a tour of the $78m Concord Oval transformation which now houses the best rugby league training facility in the world.

It’s only fitting that when the players walk through Tigers headquarters they will walk past the club’s most iconic player in Benji Marshall, whose life-size poster has been glued alongside the entry doors.

The opening will coincide with the changing of the guard at the Wests Tigers, as they head back to future under Tim Sheens, Marshall and Robbie Farah from next season.

The Tigers’ training facilities have long been the laughing stock of the league, but after two decades of running a high-performance sports program out of dilapidated venues their new home is the envy of them all.

“Tim Sheens hasn’t been here for some time now, but he tells the story that he ran a weights program out of a container at one stage,” Wests Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe said.

“So for him to come into this and see what it actually provides the playing group and coaching staff in particular, he’s amazed by it. And Benji can’t speak highly enough of it.

“We’re not silly enough to think that just because we’re going into a world-class facility that it automatically defines a change in results. In the end it comes down to the culture, the people and the standards. We’re very firm on that.”

The facility includes a multi-lane swimming pool (with a custom-made Wests Tigers logo mosaic), ice bath and heated bath for recovery and rehabilitation. There’s also a steam room and sauna.

The gym, arguably the biggest of all NRL clubs, also includes a wrestling arena and a mini-scaled league field for team walkthroughs.

The facility will be home to both the football department and the club’s administration.

The NRL head coaches office, which currently has Sheens’ name tag and mug on the desk, overlooks the gym.

There’s also a theatre, sleeping room, mental health hub, barbecue area, juice bar and barber included in the facility.

The club has also paid tribute to the history of both Balmain and Western Suburbs, erecting a walk of fame with the greatest players from the Tigers and Magpies on display through the corridors.

The second stage of the complex is still under construction but will include multi-purpose sports courts for basketball, netball and indoor soccer.

Pascoe has copped the brunt of criticism in regards to the team’s on-field performances under his rein.

However, his legacy at the club will be the lobbying with government and corporate partners to turn the club’s dreams into a reality.

Inspired by visits to the New York Jets, New York Giants, LA Dodgers and Atlanta Braves facilities in the United States, the centre of excellence takes into consideration all aspects of the business.

The Tigers have been the nomads of the NRL, shifting home grounds and training bases throughout the joint venture’s existence.
They’ve traditionally spent more time at training than other teams given how much time they spend on the road between different sessions.

“We’ve been in and around different places, training in Leichhardt, training in Concord, training in Campbelltown,” prop Alex Twal said.
“To have one ground where it’s a one-stop shop where we can do all our things from here, it’s going to be a massive boost for the players, especially for us players who have been here quite a few years.

“It’s been a long time coming. It’s going to be a really good thing for the club. We’ve never had something like this at the club. There’s a lot of exciting times ahead.”

The club has long been using images and simulated footage to show prospective players and coaches the new facility.

They took Cameron Ciraldo through the facility when they tried to lure him to the club, and also showed Isaiah Papali’i around when he first started to get cold feet.

“I think it will definitely boost our recruitment,” Twal said.

“When you’re coming in to a new club and you see these sorts of facilities and opportunities to work around this space, I think it’s definitely going to be something that people and players look forward to.

“It means so much to the players. It’s only going to be a positive for the club going forward, and the team.”

Like it was a hard choice for him. Tigers still in crisis, or Bulldogs who have finally got there shit together.

I wonder if we can steal some juniors from you. Any gun middles coming through?
The guys a bum dogster, you’ll find out.

Gus’s bitch.

From a club that that sacks May but won’t sack his biggest supporter because he wins footy games.

A place where evil dwells:

Bulldog integrity unit!
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Just reading Fox NRL, the GF just finished and we are still sharing headlines with the two teams who played (there names escape me😂), after us finishing last FFS.
Makes sense to me.

If media reports are true, so far we are probably persisting with too many 2022 players. Three spots left, should be 10??

We haven’t learned anything.

Tim is gambling on being a Craig Bellamy , a Robbo, Payton or Bea.

He should be spending his days on the roof of the COE white elephant soaking up the sun, sucking in the fumes of Sydney before heading back to the land of the @ColdWetPanther and Bovril flavoured Weetabix.

God help us @stryker puss, we are soo f**ked.
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Yes, despite the good grounds made in strengthening the pack, 3 of our spine players remain average.
Ironically I think Doueihi is currently the best out of those 3, but Laurie and Brooks have shown they can provide a lot more when they are 100% switched on.

I'm quietly confident a strong pack with Api engineering our sets will get the best out of Laurie and Brooks


Had me at hello: Klemmer links back up with Sheens at Tigers
By Adrian Proszenko
November 24, 2022 — 6.00pm

When David Klemmer thinks back to one of his proudest footballing moments, his thoughts turn to Tim Sheens.

Sheens was the Australian coach back in 2014 when he sprung a selection bombshell by handing Klemmer a green-and-gold jersey after the side lost the opening match of the Four Nations tournament. Klemmer, a 20-year-old tearaway, had made just 27 NRL appearances at the time.

“He didn’t say anything until the end of the week, then he told me I was playing, and I was over the moon,” Klemmer recalled.

“He was good for me, being so young. He’s still got the same coaching style. He knows rugby league inside out. He can adapt to how the game is now - there’s a few things that have changed, but he’s still a good coach.”

Now Klemmer and Sheens have been reunited at Wests Tigers. Klemmer continues an impressive recruitment drive that has already netted Apisai Koroisau, Isaiah Papali’i and Charlie Staines. There are hopes that English international John Bateman could soon join them.

Klemmer made the switch to Concord despite having a year left on his Knights contract, as part of a swap deal with playmaker Jackson Hastings.

“I went back to Newcastle to see if there was anything there for the next couple of years after next year,” he said. “There wasn’t anything and they thought about maybe me and Hastings swapping.

“I’ve got a lot of footy left in me and the fire still burns, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to come here and play for the Tigers. They are definitely looking on the up.”

Klemmer met with Sheens to discuss the move at the Zurich Centre, the club’s new $78 million centre of excellence. By the time the former Bulldog walked out, he was ready to make Concord his home.

“After that first meeting I was pretty much over the line,” he said. “Just how he was talking about things, talking about footy. He’s just a rugby league coach and I still want to get better.

“I’ve played a long time and want to get better in all aspects on and off the field. He’s there and Benji [Marshall] has got his own way he wants to coach and help out. It’s very exciting.”

Klemmer was barely out of his teens when he first crossed paths with Sheens. Now he arrives at the joint-venture outfit as a senior figure keen to help the emerging Tigers forwards.

“There are a lot of young guys coming through, a lot of middles [forwards] with potential,” he said.

“I want to play with them and try to help them out in any way on or off the field. I want to get out there with them, train hard and try to improve them. I love that.”

The Tigers are without a captain after James Tamou shifted back to North Queensland. Perhaps Klemmer could take on the role?

“I’ve only been here a couple of days,” he replied. “You’d have to ask that at the end of pre-season, I’m just getting to know everyone.

“I want to make sure I know everyone in that footy squad, whether they are 17 to however old they are. I want to know them on and off the field. I’m a bit nervous, but I’m loving it.”


Ned Kelly

Worth a read

Have the Wests Tigers finally landed on the players that can end their NRL finals drought?​

It's the most wonderful time of the year because the sun is shining, the Christmas leftovers are still good enough to stick on a sandwich and Wests Tigers fans are starting to hope again.

Signing John Bateman caps a heavy recruitment drive for 2023, with Api Koroisau, Isaiah Papali'i and David Klemmer all heading to Concord in what could bring about the kind of change that usually only comes when a southerly drops the temperature on a scorching summer afternoon.

The Tigers have been here before, of course.

Footy optimism is as much a December tradition as cleaning up an unsuspecting younger relative at backyard cricket and forgetting what day of the week it is during the time between Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

It's never worked out the way they wanted, but there's every chance things are a little different this time around.

This latest revival isn't built on hope, it's built on cold, hard cash and using that cash to buy the best of what's around.

There are very few problems in rugby league that can't be solved by throwing some money around and, after 11 straight seasons without finals football, the Tigers have got nothing to lose and everything to gain by dropping some fat stacks on the table.

In their 22 years of existence, the joint venture's success, such as it's been, has been built on either building from within or buying low on players who, for whatever reason, can be snagged below their market value.

Both approaches work well in theory, but it's not a surprise to see the club go a different way. You can hardly go a month without seeing an exhaustive list of players the Tigers once had, either as juniors or in the early days of their career, who have gone on to greatness with other clubs.

And turning value signings into stars is a process that works extremely well until it doesn't and, when it doesn't, you can get stuck in a perpetual cycle of starting again, over and over again.

So why not open up the wallet? The transfer market is like anything else: if you can't get out of it, get into it.

The Tigers have had big recruitment drives before, but never anything like this.

Back when Ivan Cleary was coach — which feels like a century ago given what's happened since — Ben Matulino, Russell Packer and Josh Reynolds all came on big money with bodies that were already breaking down.

Moses Mbye was capable of so many things, but they never found the spot at which he could be the most capable.

Adam Blair came from the Storm in what was supposed to be the transfer that pushed them to a second premiership, but ended up beginning a series of broken dreams that were crushed like cans on the Leichhardt Oval hill.

However, this is not that.

Klemmer, Bateman, Koroisau and Papali'i are all established talents, blue-chip stocks, with runs on the board and reputations that precede them, the way lightning precedes thunder.

Koroisau marks the first time the club has signed an incumbent New South Wales Origin player since Terry Hill joined the Tigers for their inaugural season, all the way back in 2000.

He is the sort of dummy half who makes the players around him better: It's no coincidence that Nathan Cleary's rise began when Koroisau joined the Panthers, nor should it be a surprise that, even as Penrith crushed the rugby league world beneath their feet, Koroisau continued to improve.

His game is built on smarts more than athleticism, so it makes sense that his style would age well as he gained a greater understanding of his own skills.

The three-time premiership winner is the club's most-important recruit, but the others are just as impressive.

Despite falling out of representative favour for reasons that remain unclear, Klemmer's production for the Knights remained exceptional even as the club struggled — his 155-metres-per-game last year was the fifth-most of any forward in the league.

Papali'i's journey to the club might have been rocky, with regular talk the New Zealander was considering backflipping and staying with Parramatta, but he's in black, white and gold now and, given he was seventh in the entire league for metres gained last season — as well as fourth for post-contact metres — it's fair to say the Tigers have landed one of the best backrowers in the world.

Bateman was in that category during his time with Canberra in 2019-20 and still has that football in him — maybe just in patches, but that could be enough.

The Englishman is mean enough to out-fight a razorback and provides the kind of attacking scope that can make the most of the metres that are sure to be on offer.

Even if Bateman isn't the same force he was in his Raiders days, it won't be crippling. There is a strength-in-numbers situation going on here.

If one of the four doesn't live up to the billing that would be a disappointment, but the duties of leading the club back to the promised land is spread across the quartet.

Nobody is being asked to put the whole of the club's vast territory on their own back. It's a heavy weight, but they can share the load.

It's no good having a silver spoon on a paper plate but, despite finishing last in 2022, there's still other things to like about the Tigers roster.

Daine Laurie and Adam Doueihi were two bright spots in last year's wooden-spoon campaign and Stefano Utoikamanu, who lost much of last year to injury, was formerly one of the most-promising young props in the league.

Luke Brooks will once again bear the weight of expectations that have crippled his career and act as the target for a decade's worth of frustrations.

It would probably be for the best for both player and club if Brooks began his 11th year in first grade with a fresh start somewhere else, but the Tigers will dance with the one that brought them at least one more time and it's been many years since Brooks was surrounded with this type of talent.

Add all that up and there's something here. Maybe not enough for Tigers fans to book their finals tickets now, but it's better than nothing.

How much of that something will turn out to be substantial remains to be seen but, in terms of their roster, the Tigers have done just about all they can do.

They've tried the rest, so why not buy some of the best and see where it takes them?

With a wooden spoon in hand, after years stuck in the cold, what have they possibly got to lose?

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