Their finals hopes extinguished long ago, the Wests Tigers nonetheless embark on a very important period for the joint venture.
This Sunday’s clash with the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium is the first of the final six matches before the completion of the 2017 season.
In a lot of ways it has been a miserable year for fans, who endured the Tim Simona saga, the Jason Taylor execution and the loss of three of the best players in the Tigers den.
Some fans are still amazed that nobody at the club has accepted responsibility for James Tedesco, Aaron Woods and Mitchell Moses leaving.
Maybe there will be some repercussions in the off season, but in the meantime new head coach Ivan Cleary is strongly focused on driving the Wests Tigers bus forward to better times.
The results on the scoreboard may not show it but the injection of some talented youngsters is almost certain to pay dividends down the track.
Esan Marsters, Moses Suli, Matt Eisenhuth, Tuimoala Lolohea and Alex Twal are all destined to shine in the NRL for years to come.
Add half Luke Brooks and David Nofoaluma and it’s the nucleus of a young side with heaps of potential.
But you also need experience in the NRL, especially in the middle and Cleary is happy to welcome back old stagers Chris Lawrence and Sauaso Sue for the Titans game this coming Sunday.
Lawrence has been named in the starting 13 in the back row, while Sue is on the bench.
As per last week’s late changes, Elijah Taylor will start in the back row with Matt Eisenhuth at lock forward, while Tim Grant starts in the front row in place of Ava Seumanufagai.
Joel Edwards (concussion) and Josh Aloiai (knee) have also been included as reserves alongside JJ Felise and Jack Littlejohn.
Wests Tigers have been playing pretty well without getting the right result in the past few weeks, so fans will be praying the gods of rugby league will be on their side this Sunday afternoon.
Wests Tigers NRL Round 21 v Gold Coast Titans
1. James Tedesco
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Esan Marsters
4. Kevin Naiqama
5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
6. Tuimoala Lolohea
7. Luke Brooks
8. Aaron Woods (capt.)
9. Matt McIlwrick
10. Tim Grant
11. Chris Lawrence
12. Elijah Taylor
13. Matt Eisenhuth
14. Alex Twal
15. Sauaso Sue
16. Michael Chee Kam
17. Ava Seumanufagai
18. Josh Aloiai
19. JJ Felise
20. Joel Edwards
21. Jack Littlejohn