Wests Tigers made a tough call regarding a change of coach earlier this month – now they face another massive decision.
Skipper James Tamou, who turns 34 later this year, wants to play on with the club in 2023 and officials have to decide whether to give him a new deal or cut him loose.
Tamou is one of the five captains appointed by sacked coach Michael Maguire at the start of the season but it is he who is the public face of the playing group.
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He is extremely popular with the team, especially the young Islander players, and is a fine role model and that will all play a part in the Tigers’ decision.
But Tamou has 14 years of hard slog in the front row under his hood – and that has taken a toll on his body.
His best football is behind the former Test and NSW Origin prop and the Tigers have to make the hard call of whether they are better off going with a younger player or sticking with the veteran hardman.
This week the club gave under-performing utility Tyrone Peachey – who only joined the club this year – permission to test the market.
Panthers keen on May
The Panthers don’t have many players on their shopping list for 2023 – but Roosters prop Terrell May is one.
The brother of Penrith flyer Taylan and former Panther Tyrone, the 23-year-old is a Panthers junior who made his NRL debut earlier this season – ironically against Penrith.
The Roosters are keen to keep the promising middle forward and the two clubs are currently battling for his services.
With the Roosters losing a host of big names in recent seasons, his pathway to the top may be easier there.
But the lure of returning home – and playing alongside his little brother – will also be a major factor in his decision.
Greek international finds new club
The Sharks may have got themselves a handy player for the run-in to the finals in talented utility player Billy Magoulias.
The 25-year-old signed with Warrington Wolves only last November but a nagging ankle injury and his wife falling pregnant resulted him asking for a release.
Warrington granted his wish and the Greek international, who has played a handful of games for the Sharks in the top grade, played for Cronulla feeder team Newtown last weekend.
Fit and firing, Magoulias is a handy footballer and could even get a run in the top grade during the Origin period.
Why Queensland couldn’t gamble on Cotter
This is a story I was sworn to secrecy on about Cowboys coach Todd Payten.
But as 17 years have now passed, I am going to tell all – because it has relevance this week.
Just days before the 2005 grand final for Wests Tigers – ironically against the Cowboys – Payten tore his hamstring at training.
Then Tigers coach Tim Sheens kept it a closely guarded secret – telling me what happened but forbidding me to write it – and decided to gamble on Payten.
The move worked a treat – Payten lasted the game and famously scored the final try that sealed the Tigers’ one and only premiership.
So Payten this week knows how his boom young prop Reuben Cotter feels after a hamstring tear in the warm-up against Manly last Friday night cost him his place in the Queensland Origin team.
Why could one play, 17 years ago, and the other not now, with more time to recover and when sports science has improved considerably?
Payten was a talented, but not quiet so speedy prop who relied on ball skills and guile to get him through games.
But Cotter is like a tornado, doing everything at 100kph.
The Maroons camp knew he could not ‘nurse’ the hamstring and if he went out and played his fast-paced natural game, there would have been a real danger of him blowing the hamstring – and it was a gamble they could not afford to take.
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