As the halfway point of the 2021 NRL season approaches, the Wests Tigers NRL team has just three wins on the board. Meanwhile, their Knock On Effect NSW Cup team, currently known under the Wests Magpies side of the joint venture, is second behind the Penrith Panthers.
The Maggies have won eight straight and now sit four points clear of the Parramatta Eels and five clear of the fourth placed North Sydney Bears, whom are the Sydney Roosters reserve grade side. Now if you had’ve noticed, the three teams around them on the table are part of three of the current four best NRL sides in Sydney.
Often a good NRL side has a flow on effect into having a strong seconds side. Good teams are deep with talent, competing for first grade nods is harder and sometimes just good vibes can flow through a club as well creating success. So why are these Magpies an anomaly right now?
Arguably, the most correct answer to that question is that the Magpies are a parliament of the best young talent on the verge of NRL stardom in the competition. In the round 11 win over the Canberra Raiders, here is a list of players whom have made their NRL debuts and their age:
- Zac Cini (21)
- Reece Hoffman (20)
- Jock Madden (21)
- Jake Simpkin (19)
- Stefano Utoikamanu (21)
- Shawn Blore (20)
Then there’s other young talent yet to play first grade but very likely will by the end of the 2021 or 2022 season:
- Allan Fitzgibbon (age not listed)
- Kiah Cooper (23)
- Tom Amone (24)
- Kelma Tuilagi (22)
- Tukimihia Simpkins (19)
The WestsLife Podcast crew spoke to Wests Tigers Michael Maguire after the game at Lidcombe Oval on Saturday and you could hear not only how frustrated he was with the first grade team’s close loss to the New Zealand Warriors, but also the excitement about the amount of young talent he’s amassing at the club.
It’s hard for fans to be positive about the direction of Wests Tigers right now. It’s also somewhat understandable that fans without a close ear to the ground would buy into some media clickbait articles and social media posts about Madge being under pressure to keep his job. But the fact is firing yet another coach who’s only just laying the foundations for a successful future is downright dumb.
If you look beyond the scoreboard in Wests Tigers games in 2021, you can see our best performers consistently are some of Madge’s recruits namely Daine Laurie, Adam Doueihi and Luciano Leilua. They themselves are just 20, 23 and 24 years old themselves respectively.
Of course you can’t expect too much success packing an NRL squad full of inexperienced kids (though the Penrith Panthers are showing it’s not such a bad idea), but additions to the roster for established talent is incoming as the team’s salary cap giving us plenty of room to spend. You just have to see the ingredients chef Maguire is preparing.
It’s hard to be patient when you hold the longest finals drought in the league, but I highly recommend the Wests Tigers faithful get down to Lidcombe Oval in the coming weeks and see these fresh organically growing juniors in person (it’s also super easy to get up close and meet them too).
Beyond that, it’s a sensational cheap day out (free entry if you’re a Wests Tigers member) to enjoy some local rugby league with the Ron Massey and Jersey Flegg sides playing on the same day. It’s also nice to be cheering on a team who’s likely to win.
Pack a picnic rug, some camping chairs and some snacks when you head to the historic oval. But also pack a notebook and pen, as you should note down the names of the kids who impress you on the day. It’ll be proof in the not-too-distant future that you saw the stars of the finals-bound Wests Tigers squad before 99% of the other fans of our beloved club did.
Or just take our word for it.
Listen to the Westslife Podcast on Apple and Spotify with weekly reviews and previews of every game of the Wests Tigers season as well as interviews with players both past and current.