Wests Tigers confirms eight player departures as Maguire’s roster clean-out begins
WRITTEN BY ED CHISHOLM
In addition to the departures of favourite sons Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence, the Tigers have announced six players will leave the club ahead of season 2021.
The club has confirmed Harry Grant will return to the Storm, while Dylan Smith, Elijah Taylor, Matt Eisenhuth, Robert Jennings and Oliver Clark have also been shown the door having not earnt contracts for next season.
It comes as the club begins a major roster clean-out enacted by coach Michael Maguire as he continues his quest for a premiership at Concord, after the Tigers missed the finals for a ninth time in 10 years, finishing the 2020 season in 11th.
Grant will return to Melbourne with his season-long loan deal lapsing, despite speculation the gun hooker could look to secure his future elsewhere given the uncertainty surrounding Cameron Smith.
Among those fancied to take out this year’s Dally M Medal, Grant has been a revelation as part Maguire’s side, however his form has been a bitter pill for fans to swallow given the likelihood he would return to the Victorian capital.
The mass departures come following the Tigers decision to also not offer Marshall a contract beyond this year, sending the club icon off in an emotional farewell following Saturday’s loss to Parramatta.
Marshall’s final game in Tigers colours didn’t go to plan, the 35-year-old leaving the field with knee and rib injuries and failing to return as the Tigers went down to the Eels in a heartbreaking 28-24 loss.
The Kiwi Test star remains clubless for next season and is understood to be holding onto hopes of playing on, with recent reports linking him with a move to Cronulla, while the Broncos have also expressed interest.
Lawrence meanwhile has farewelled the Tigers as a one-club player, playing in his final game on the weekend having announced his retirement last month.
Maguire flagged the possibility of a roster overhaul going into the off-season, however, the biggest questions have circled around some of his senior players after another season of underachievement.
The biggest victim of those is star halfback Luke Brooks, who despite a minor reprieve to finish the year, has been under intense scrutiny for his form throughout the year, at one stage spending time out of Maguire’s starting side.
Co-captain Moses Mbye has also had his doubters in 2020, as has fullback Adam Douiehi who after arriving at Concord from the Rabbitohs in the pre-season struggled for consistency in his first campaign.
It’s understood the Tigers will look to add some world-class talent to their 2021 roster, with the club eager to acquire Josh Addo-Carr from Melbourne as the NSW Blues and Kangaroos winger seeks a return home to Sydney.
However, talks between the two parties have reportedly broken in recent weeks, given Melbourne are seeking a player in return and have proposed a swap deal involving David Nofoaluma, which the Tigers have turned down.