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NRL season 2017: The key question facing West Tigers’ big four
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The whispers about the Tigers’ big four wanting to know who will be coaching the side next year before committing to the club are getting louder. But chief executive Justin Pascoe has stated the future of Jason Taylor hasn’t been a topic of discussion throughout negotiations with the quartet’s manager, Isaac Moses.

“We’ve had no discussions with their management about it,” Pascoe said. “I think there’s more to a football side now than just one single coach … there’s a whole football program in place.” The Tigers will rightfully give Taylor every opportunity to earn a contract extension. But the equation is simple: play finals football and Taylor stays or miss the eight and they move on to their fourth coach in seven years. Barring an early-season capitulation, it means Aaron Woods, James Tedesco, Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks will have to decide where they will play in 2018 and beyond without knowing who will coach the Tigers.

There has been talk in the past about a desire to play under their junior coach, Todd Payten – who is now an assistant coach at the Cowboys. However, Taylor appears to have the support of the playing group after a drama-plagued 2016 campaign. The club won’t rush to a decision on Taylor and will allow the results of this season to dictate the future of the club.

Interestingly Woods was on NRL 360 on Tuesday night and admitted he would want to know who would be coaching the club in 2018 and beyond before committing to the club. “You don’t want to commit to somewhere you don’t know what’s happening,” Woods said. “They want all four of us to sign but at the same time you need to know who is going to be the head coach and what systems they want to have in place. We don’t want to waste the next three years of footy not being happy.” Pascoe insists the club is having positive discussions with their manager. “We’ve committed to them and we’ve committed to their management that we’re going to have these discussions in private out of respect to them and the process and their teammates.”

The NRL has had to raise concerns in relation to equipment breaches during the Wests Tigers-Panthers game last Sunday. Tigers five-eighth Mitchell Moses and Penrith’s Dean Whare will be warned they risk a fine if they don’t address the concerns of the governing body in time for their next game. Moses’ bizarre decision to cut his socks and wear them as leg warmers also caught the attention of the NRL.

It’s understood Moses wears ankle socks with special grip at the bottom to avoid slipping that often occurs wearing football socks. But the rules state that modified equipment must first be approved for use by the NRL head of football (or his nominee) before that item may be used in a match. Moses has been getting away with it for some time but it came to light in the loss to Penrith.

Whare, who has been dogged by calf injuries the past couple of years, wore Skins compression stockings underneath his socks. They were clearly visible and in breach of the game’s rules, which state: “Identification of manufacturer on non-standard apparel or protective equipment (other than headgear) is prohibited.”

Caught out: The NRL has raised concern over Mitchell Moses' fashion trend.Caught out: The NRL has raised concern over Mitchell Moses’ fashion trend. 

 

Dragons playing with fire?

​The crew at the NRL integrity unit have been pretty tied up lately with the Tim Simona affair but they have also quietly put to bed another issue in the past two weeks. Personnel from the integrity unit met with the Dragons last week to bring their attention to some very explosive allegations raised about one of St George Illawarra’s sponsors in a recent high-profile criminal trial. While the judge presiding over the trial found little or no supporting evidence of the most serious claims made about the sponsor, at issue was whether it was appropriate for a club to maintain such a corporate link given the colourful business figures the sponsor was alleged to associate with. Ultimately, the NRL chose to leave it with the Dragons.

 

Go easy on Tigers

The Wests Tigers approved just one advanced payment for Tim Simona over the past 15 months, signing off on the $1200 request after Simona used family reasons to justify the early payment. Clubs get about six requests a year from players for payment advances, some to purchase properties and others to cover the bills. To suggest the Tigers should have known something was up when Simona came to the club for financial assistance is a stretch. The Tigers notified the NRL when they had genuine reason for concern after a social media post from his now ex-girlfriend. They both lied to the governing body in the interviews that followed. The NRL then gathered 29,000 text messages between the pair that differed to the original story being put forward. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.

 

Segeyaro powwow

James Segeyaro‘s manager Sam Ayoub and Cronulla football manager Phil Moss were at League Central on Tuesday to discuss the necessary measures that need to be taken to get the hooker out of his deal with Leeds to play with the Sharks in the coming weeks. There are still a few roadblocks that need to be overcome before the former Panthers No.9 returns to the NRL.

 

Phones prohibited

The NRL announced a crackdown on the use of mobile phones in the dressing sheds earlier in the year and there will be no excuses for players or officials caught breaking the rules. The NRL have plastered signs at every ground reminding the players of their obligations in upholding the integrity of the game. “The use of mobile phones/devices is strictly prohibited from one hour pre-match until full-time,” the signs read.

 

Eels score a bargain

The Parramatta Eels have got plenty of money to spend on recruitment for next season but they might not be in a rush to find a playmaker given the performances of Clint Gutherson to start the year. And why would they be. Gutherson is on less than $300,000 a season and is performing better than those demanding three times as much.

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