Wests’ Tigers have an identity crisis
Benji Marshall in actions for the tigers against Souths (AAP Image/Action Photographic, Renee McKay)
The New South Wales Government and Premier Barry O’Farrell may have given the Wests Tigers the wake-up call they needed after announcing the budget for 2012-2013.
O’Farrell, a Tigers tragic, and Treasurer Mike Baird have inadvertently woken a sleeping giant in the sporting mega centre that is the Macarthur. A hotbed of sports crazy kids who have been snubbed by the Tigers for far too long.
Its almost been criminal what the Tigers have done to one of the fastest growing areas in New South Wales.
Time and time again, the club has turned its back on Campbelltown and the surrounding areas. The place is an afterthought.
Considering the struggle Sydney clubs have in the National Rugby League, its mind boggling that the club decided to move even further away from Campbelltown Stadium and instead set themselves up at Concord.
Instead of securing their future in a guaranteed growth area, the Tigers only play four games a year in the region and rarely are players seen training at the complex at Leumeah.
Its simply idiotic and smug that the club can hold such a large place to ransom the way they do.
There is always a place for Leichhardt Oval and there always will be. The nostalgic venue is a hot ticket and should be treated accordingly.
But Macarthur is different. The people want to be wanted. They want to be treated like Phil Gould is now treating the people of Penrith. With respect and with a team they can truly support.
Little wonder a poor crowd turned out for the Tigers last match at Campbelltown against a North Queensland side that featured Johnathan Thurston, James Tamou and Matt Bowen.
Enter the NSW Government.
In their budget, the government announced new projects costing $181 million dollars on new housing areas which will support 76,000 new homes. Many of them in Camden and Liverpool.
They also announced $397 million for the South West Rail Link. Not to mention upgrades to the M5 Motorway and Camden Valley way. These are the growth indicators Tigers Chief Executive Stephen Humphreys surely must be looking at.
Balmain legend Benny Elias is on record saying that Campbelltown is the place the Tigers need to be.
“The ideal situation for the NRL would be to have the Dragons playing down at Illawarra, the Rabbits up at Gosford and the Tigers out at Campbelltown” Elias said in 2006.
“That is just my personal opinion. I have a great personal attachment to Leichhardt but you would have to say that would be the optimum situation for the NRL.”
The “Wests” Tigers have an identity crisis. More importantly, the people of Macarthur have an even bigger one.
Its time the Tigers hierarchy put down the lattés and head out west and get in the trenches.