As a Head Coach, Michael Maguire is known for his ability to recruit and develop juniors successfully into first grade.
It was a big reason why Souths won the competition in 2014 and it remains a big reason as to why the club enjoys continued success.
Madge has had a hand in the development of players like Adam Reynolds to more recent prospects such as Cam Murray and Angus Crichton.
Maguire even spotted a diamond in the rough when he signed Cody Walker from the Queensland Cup.
With a new season, these are the three best prospects that Maguire will be looking to integrate into the first grade team sooner rather than later.
Honorable mention: Stefano Utoikamanu (Prop).
I was unable to place Utoikamanu on my list because it’s looking more and more likely that Tigers fans will have to wait until the 2021 season to see the powerhouse prop in a Wests Jersey.
Tigers CEO Justin Pacoe confirmed the signing via tweet this week however Parramatta seem to be playing hard ball in this scenario by offering Stefano a top 30 contract potentially ending any chance of a release for 2020.
To my knowledge, it is not yet known if he has accepted the offer however I remain hopeful that once Parramatta find a replacement, Utoikamanu will find his way into a Wests Tigers Jersey.
The young prop is exactly the type of player that the Tigers need in the forward pack as he brings both size and explosiveness.
I would suggest to anyone who wants to watch a bit of footage on Stefano to watch both the under 18’s State of Origin game in 2018 where he scored the match-winning try but also the under 20’s state of origin game where he made 150 metres from the bench.
The young prop was also an important part of Wentworthville making the NSW Cup Grand Final which shows me that he’s ready to play first grade and his potential under Maguire is something Wests Tigers fans should excited about in the not too distant future.
Jock Madden (Half)
Signed from the Newcastle Knights, Madden is entering his second season as a Tiger after an impressive display in both Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup in 2018.
In terms of style and ability, Jock Madden is an organizing half with a great kicking game in the same mold as Adam Reynolds.
On a development contract for the start of 2020, if Madden continues to improve as a playmaker, don’t be surprised if Madge gives him some game time at the back end of the year.
With 2020 likely being Benji Marshall’s last season, there is a need to be filled in the number 6 Jersey and Madden strikes me as the perfect halves partner for Luke Brooks.
While Brooks is at his best when he’s taking on the defensive line, Maddens real strengths are more in line with a traditional halve.
For this to happen, Madden needs to show improvement on the defensive side of the ball, however this is the case for young playmakers.
Alex Seyfarth (Backrower)
Rumors coming out of Concord are that Alex Seyfarth has been training the house down in the off-season which adds to my hopes that he will be the long term answer to the 13 Jersey that Matterson has left behind.
The Big forward can play anywhere in the Backrow as well as Prop and has impressed in Reserve grade to the point where he was rewarded with an Under 20’s State of Origin Jumper in 2019.
The young backrower was promoted into the top 30 Squad along with Talau last season so don’t be surprised to see Seyfarth in the team sheet fairly early on in the season and I am confident he won’t disappoint.
Jake Simpkin (Hooker)
The Tigers recruitment has recently and rightly so come under a great deal of scrutiny in terms of signing quality players. However, I can’t stress enough how impressed and excited I am to see Jake Simpkin play in a Wests Tigers Jersey in 2020 and beyond.
The Wynnum Manly Seagulls Junior was pinched by the Tigers from the Bronco’s system on a development contract for 2020.
Simpkin is known as the best Hooker of his age group and I would even go as far to say that he’s the best young hooker yet to make his debut in the NRL.
With a game similar to that of Isaac Luke, Simpkins strength lies in his strength, speed and IQ in the ruck area.
Defensively Simpkin is also quite gifted as it appears from watching him play that he already has the size to play against grown men which is why I believe he will be fast tracked in the first grade tram sooner rather than later.
Having made the Grand Final in both the Mal Meninga Cup and the Hasting Deering Colts Competition which is the NSW equivalent of the SG Ball and Jersey Flegg competitions, I would strongly suggest for Tigers fans to watch these games along with the under 18’s State of Origin game in 2019 to just see how much of a talent Simpkin is.
With the Number 9 position being up in the air, I’m certain that Simpkins contract will be upgraded to include him in the top 30 which will allow him to either start or be part of the Hooker rotation from the bench in 2020.