Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary watches on during a training session at Concord Oval.
Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary watches on during a training session at Concord Oval. DAN HIMBRECHTS

'Who gets sacked for this filthy mismanagement?'

YOU sack a captain to keep the coach.

You sack the coach to keep the players happy. You lose the players.

So, who gets sacked for this filthy mismanagement?

It is a confusing, saddening time to be a Wests Tigers supporter. On one hand, you're furious with the club's three best players walking before the season's got into full swing.

Then on the other hand, you're furious at the inept running of the club that prompted these players to say "enough: we're not spending our best years here, we can't risk it".

The only solace for Wests Tigers supporters coming to grips with the fact that their club captain will front up this weekend against the club that he's pledged his future to is that Ivan Cleary had the backbone to draw a line in the sand and say: this farce needs to end.

A new coach, a dramatic clean slate and a stack of money to spend on players who actually want to be there.

But that's where it hurts. Who actually wants to come to the Tigers any more?

The club that warmed everyone's hearts with a wonderful style of play last decade has become rudderless and a laughing stock.

Three finals in 17 seasons, after a combination of two clubs whose supporters were starved of end-of-season action for the best part of the decade beforehand.

The first answer is, clearly Aaron Woods, James Tedesco and Mitchell Moses don't want to.

And this is where it's a complete joke - that fans who commit to watching week in, week out, spending on merchandise, tickets and all other facets, have been taken for a ride during contract negotiations over the opening months of the season, and have no idea whether or not they want to cheer on or yell at players they've watched grow into their team, return from injury upon injury, and in today's cases, evolved into representative players.

Don't forget - Woods, Tedesco and Moses are just the latest blows for Tigers supporters who watch on trying to figure out what comes next as Tim Sheens, Mick Potter and Jason Taylor have been cleared out of their office.

 

West Tigers stalwart Chris Lawrence takes the ball up against the Titans.
West Tigers stalwart Chris Lawrence takes the ball up against the Titans. DAVE HUNT

Robbie Farah, Josh Addo Carr, Marika Koroibete, Blake Austin, Andrew Fifita, Beau Ryan, Bryce Gibbs, Chris Heighington, the turnaround in Adam Blair once he left ... let's not even mention the money that was spent on those players once they were turfed out of the club. It's everything that wouldn't be written in a textbook on managing a sporting roster, climaxing in this current debacle.

Ultimately, supporters don't abandon their clubs. If they did, the Tigers faithful wouldn't have been around to witness 2005, after the soap opera of the opening years of the joint venture riddled with drugs and finger poking, among other ineptitudes.

But they can lose faith.

And faith in the current management is next to zero. They've got a long way to go to earn the fans' trust.

Cleary brings with him a reputation for building cultures and Tigers supporters will be hoping that the work he did at the Warriors and Panthers can be translated to Concord.

It'll take patience, probably a bit more pain. But please, no more pantomime. Some stability in the board room. And no more players (and player managers) in charge.

And please, smoke the peace pipe between Wests and Balmain. It's been 17 years.

The rebuild starts now. Luke Brooks will be there. David Nofoaluma re-signed on Thursday. Elijah Taylor is a leader. Matt McIlwrick battles all day.

They should be led by Chris Lawrence, as well.

And that should start from this weekend. Because you want your leaders to lead from the front. Not to leave.

News Corp Australia


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