May 30, 2024

Ahead of the 2024 NRL season, the Wests Tigers have returned for preseason training under the careful supervision of new head coach Benji Marshall.

On the first day of the club’s pre-Christmas block of training at the Zurich Centre of Excellence, Concord, twenty-six players were put through a rigorous workout.

 

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A combination of top-30, development, train, and trial players were included in the group; several of them had previously been junior representative teammates.

The club’s strategic emphasis on paths and development is reflected in the fact that two thirds of the players at Monday’s inaugural session were junior locals.

Even though this is a lengthy process that will cost a lot of money, there are a lot of encouraging indicators that the system is functioning.

Seven members of the Western Suburbs team, which just eighteen months ago won the club’s inaugural Harold Matthews Cup, are currently training with the first-grade team. All seven have development contracts or are already on the top-30, or they will be in the coming years.

Kit Laulilii, who made his NRL debut last season alongside colleague Tallyn Da Silva, was captain of the premiership-winning Magpies squad.

Laulilii will sign a development deal in 2024, and Da Silva is one of three Harold Matthews team members who have advanced to a top-30 contract from 2022.

Lachlan Galvin, a 2023 Australian Schoolboys representative, and teenage prop Jordan Miller accompany him.

Heath Mason, another speedster, and Kit’s younger brother, Luke Laulilii, were also members of the Wests Harold Matthews squad.

They were also picked for the Australian Schoolboys this year, much like Galvin, and in 2025 they will advance to the top-30 and development contacts, respectively.

Another Campbelltown native, edge forward Brandon Webster-Mansfield, moves up to the top-30 in 2023 after being on a development contract.

Two more speedsters on the Wests Harold Matthews team were Heath Mason and Kit’s younger brother, Luke Laulilii.

As with Galvin, they were selected for the Australian Schoolboys this year as well. They will move on to the top-30 and development contacts, respectively, in 2025.

After being on a development contract, edge forward Brandon Webster-Mansfield, who is also from Campbelltown, jumps up to the top-30 in 2023.

In 2024, Solomone Saukuru (outside back), Chris Faagutu (forward), Alexander Lobb (winger), and Tony Sukkar (forward) will all be on development contracts.

Along with players like Brandon Tumeth, who made his NRL debut last season, Sukkar was one of five youngsters from Balmain that reported for duty on the first day of play.

Along with his older brother Sione, who is gearing up for his third season with Wests Tigers, former Manly forward Samuela Fainu enjoyed his first practise at his new club.

Latu, the youngest of the three Fainu brothers who are currently members of the club, has been serving as a representative for Tonga.

Ten Wests Tigers players who participated in international competitions are scheduled to report to training later this month, with some starting in early December.

Jayden Sullivan was another recruit present at the session on Monday. The former Dragons half reported for duty a few weeks ahead of schedule, even though he was supposed to begin training with the second wave of players on November 20.

 

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