With Latrell Mitchell officially signing with South Sydney and ending one of the most depressing contract sagas for Tigers fans that I can remember, the Fullback positions remains a real point of contention for the team moving forward.
In the modern era of Rugby League, Fullback has become one of the most important positions in the game which often separates good teams from elite teams.
If the Tigers want to make a splash in the finals, Michael Maguire and Justin Pascoe should consider these five options.
Disclaimer: Some of the names of this list are based on rumors that have not been verified by a valid source and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt.
The incumbent fullback at the club and the most likely option to start in round 1 against the dragons. Corey Thompson has proven himself as one of the most underrated stars of the league.
The constant rumors linking the Wests Tigers to fullbacks such as Latrell Mitchell and Matt Moylan suggest that Tigers management are hoping to use their available cap space to upgrade in this position.
The smart move from the Tigers however would be to use Thompson as the Fullback going into the season and save the funds at their disposal incase a potential star becomes available. If this occurs, expect Thompson to be moved to the Wing.
With the signing of NFL star Valentine Holmes, Scott Drinkwater’s immediate future in the starting lineup for the North Queensland Cowboys appears to be clouded.
Holmes has without a doubt been promised the Fullback position while Michael Morgan will be wearing playing Halfback.
This leaves Scott Drinkwater in a competition with Jake Clifford for the five-eight position. It seems most likely that Clifford will be starting over Drinkwater leaving the former Storm fullback in reserve grade.
If this occurs expect the Tigers to make a play for Drinkwater. It was rumored that the club put feelers out for Drinkwater when they withdrew their offer from Mitchell but nothing came of the inquiry.
In my opinion, once Drinkwater plays regular time in first grade, he will become one of the elite fullbacks in the game with his playmaking ability and running game.
If it wasn’t for injury, Drinkwater would have started the season in front of Hughes and Papenhuyzen which is a real testament to how talented he is.
The signing of Latrell Mitchell has made South Sydney very back heavy so it seems more than likely that one of their star backs such as Alex Johnston will be let go.
Johnston’s management have recently come and stated that the former Australian winger will not be leaving the Bunnies this season but Master Coach Wayne Bennett is renowned for his famous taps on the shoulder to let a player know that their services will no longer be required.
With not many teams willing to take on Dane Gagai’s reported 700k salary, Johnston seems the most likely choice to leave and would 100 percent improve the team if he was to move to the Tigers.
Having been heavily linked to the Club, Johnston would inject some much needed speed into the backline which is something the Tigers desperately need.
Johnston in my opinion has actually become quite an underrated fullback due to how good he has been on the wing but if you watch some of his games at Fullback, you’ll see that his positional play from fullback is excellent and his passing game though not Ponga level is quite good.
If I was a betting man, I would put my money on Johnston being our Fullback heading into round 1.
In a similar way to Johnston, Douheihi’s position in the South Sydney backline has come into question with the arrival of Latrell Mitchell.
The Lebanese international would be an excellent signing for any club due to his ability to play anywhere in the backline.
Besides Drinkwater, Signing Doueihi would be my choice out of this list because it would give the Tigers flexibility going forward.
The Tigers can offer Doueihi the Fullback position for 2020 and then shift him to Five-Eight for 2021 to replace Benji Marshall.
In my opinion, the Halves is the best position for the playmaker as he already has a good kicking game and a big body that is capable of taking on the line.
Doueihi also impressed in 2019 at Fullback which is a credit to and work ethic. South Sydney however from what I have heard will not release the young playmaker as they see him as the natural replacement for Cody Walker but anything is possible in Rugby League these days so watch this space and pray to the Footy Gods that we can land an elite signing!
A name that Casual fans might not recognize, Logan Dillon signed with the Tiger’s from the Bulldogs going into the 2019 season and impressed judges with his performances at Fullback in the Jersey Flegg competition.
Known for his speed and aggressive nature, Dillon seems like the most likely player at the moment that could be developed internally to become the regular Fullback in first grade.
For anyone who would like to see footage of Dillon in action, there are a few highlight videos on the Wests Tigers website of the Jersey Flegg team to which the young fullback features in.
There are even rumors going around that Dillon will start the 2020 season as the Reserve Grade Fullback so don’t be surprised to see the Fullbacks name come into contention in the future.