Michael Maguire will take an eye to next year’s Wests Tigers when picking teams for the last month of this year’s competition, with the club to miss the finals.
The Tigers 30-6 loss to Penrith on Saturday night ended any faint hope they had of making the top eight, now six points out of the finals with four rounds to go.
Maguire has used the equal-most players of all clubs this year with 31, but the lack of a reserve grade competition means opportunities have still been limited for many players.
And desperate to turn the club around, Maguire will now use the next month to explore options.
“It’s going to give me an opportunity to look at things over the next few weeks,” Maguire said.
“I’ll definitely be looking at (combinations) for next year. I want to see the depth of some of the people we have in the organisation.
“I’ve got a really committed group that’s been training underneath us.
“I’ll have a look and assess.”
Of the 17 that faced Penrith, Matt Eisenhuth, Benji Marshall and Sam McIntyre are unsigned for next year, while Harry Grant’s loan deal from Melbourne expires.
Of particular interest will be how Maguire splits up time at dummy-half.
Grant has been a revelation for the Tigers this year, but unless there are any changes in his contract he will be in Melbourne next year.
Jacob Liddle is also now back fit for the Tigers, and is their long-term dummy-half.
However with Grant back fit Liddle played just 24 minutes off the bench on Saturday night, with Grant’s 56 on the field still a reduction on most his games.
The Tigers also meanwhile have young gun Jake Simpkin as part of their development list, after he was brought to the club late last year.
“Harry hasn’t played for a while. We had to measure the gas there (in rotation against Penrith),” Maguire said.
“Jacob Liddle has been doing a good job for us, that was always planned.
“I’ll assess that as we go through the next few rounds. There are a few others there I might have a look at myself.”