Who is the greatest player in the history of the Wests Tigers?
That’s a question we are looking to answer as the club enters it’s 20th season in the NRL. What is your interpretation of greatest and how would you rank them from 5 to 1?
Here we list some of the candidates in no particular order and their credentials. Also look forward to this being discussed on the next Wests Tigers Podcast as Joel and Eddie list their 5 greatest from 5-1.
- Position – Centre/Back Row
- Games for Wests Tigers – 227 games (2006-Current)
- Win/Loss Ratio at Wests Tigers – 104 Wins, 123 Losses
Chris Lawrence debuted for the Wests Tigers in 2006 as the youngest player to have debuted for the Club at just 17 years and 283 days old.
He had electric speed and a decent build for a 17 year old, and immediately his potential looked sky high.
Lawrence went on to become predominantly a centre from 2007-2012 and, despite never playing for NSW, he played six Test matches for Australia.
He is a fantastic hole runner who, when fit, showed a great turn of foot and was a strong defender.
Lawrence suffered a serious hip injury in 2011 which saw a career positional change eventuate, as he shifted to the back row after struggling in the centres after his injury.
Since then he has gone on to captain the club and was one of their best players in 2018.
- Position – Fullback
- Games for WT – 102 (2004-2008)
- Win/Loss Ratio for Wests Tigers – 51 Wins, 51 Losses
- Games for Wests Magpies – 49
Brett Hodgson signed for the Wests Tigers in 2004 after originally starting his career at the Western Suburbs Magpies.
Having enjoyed a successful stint at Parramatta, Hodgson fell out of favour in 2003 and sought a return to the now merged Club.
“Hog” was a fan favourite at fullback with his fabulous mix of courage, skill and reliability at the back providing the backbone for the 2005 Premiership winning side.
Hodgson broke several records in 2005, scoring 22 points during a 54-2 flogging of the Bulldogs, and 30 individual points against the Cowboys in the first week of the finals.
In 2005 Hodgson won the Dally M Fullback of the Year and the NRL’s leading point’s scorer for the season with 308 points, the most by any fullback. This record still stands to this day.
Hodgson would go on to play 102 games for the Club and score 38 tries and kick 317 goals before departing in 2008 for a successful playing and coaching stint in England.
Hodgson is now an Assistant Coach to the NRL team at Wests Tigers, and is the Coach of the Western Suburbs Magpies Intrust NSW Cup team.
- Position – Five-Eight
- Games for WT – 222 (2003-2013) (2018-Current)
- Win/Loss Ratio for WT – 118 Wins, 104 Losses
Benji Marshall burst on to the scene as an 18 year old with a precocious side step.
Plucked from Keebra Park High School, Marshall debuted in 2003 and, whilst his frame was slight, his freakish skill set was both unique and obvious.
Whilst Marshall holds many records at the Club, including most points, most tries and most goals, it was his side step and cavalier style of play that inspired a generation of young Tigers’ fans and led the Tigers to Premiership glory in 2005.
Marshall had several injuries early in his career, with his dodgy shoulders threatening to curtail his career. However, he went on to play 27 Tests for New Zealand and returned to Wests Tigers in 2018 after leaving in 2013.
- Position – Back Row
- Games for WT – 75 (2009-2012)
- Win/Loss Ratio at WT – 39 Wins, 36 Losses
Gareth Ellis joined the Wests Tigers in 2009, citing the challenge of playing in the NRL from the Super league as a major reason for joining the Wests Tigers.
Ellis had been one of best forwards in the English Super League, yet came to Australia somewhat under the radar in terms of his profile.
He became perhaps the most revered and intimidating forward in Tigers’ history in his 4-year stint with the Club, with his ability to hit hard and his defence an inspiration to his teammates.
Coach Tim Sheens described him as “in my time here, dollar-for-dollar, he’s been the best buy this Club has had.”
Remarkably Ellis was named the Wests Tigers Player of the Year for three straight seasons from 2009 to 2011.
His stint at the Club also culminated in the Tigers returning to the finals, finishing in the Top 4 in 2010 and 2011.
Suffering from homesickness and injury Ellis only managed 8 games in 2012, before returning to Hull in the English Super League.
- Position – Back Row/Lock
- Games for Wests Tigers – 162 Games (2003-2008, 2010-2014)
- Win/Loss Ratio for Wests Tigers 84 Wins, 78 Losses
Liam Fulton debuted for the Wests Tigers in 2003 and became a fan favourite as a back rower and lock as he often made the most tackles and always put his head where others would not in defence.
Fulton was s skilful ball player, and a loveable larrikin, who was extremely popular among the fan base.
In 2009 he made a huge sacrifice, helping the Tigers out of Salary Cap trouble by spending a season in England, before returning to the Club in 2010.
He was forced to retire early in 2015 due to several concussions.
Overall Fulton would play 165 games for the Club and was on the bench for the side that won the Premiership in 2005.
Fulton represented NSW City and the NRL All Stars and scored 37 tries for the club.
- Position – Hooker
- Games for WT – 247 (2003-2016) (2018-Current)
- Win/Loss Ratio for WT – 130 Wins, 126 Losses
Robbie Farah debuted for the Wests Tigers in 2003 as an 18 year old before cementing his place in the side in 2005.
An extremely gifted and creative dummy half, Farah made an immediate impression, eventually winning the starting role off Ben Galea in 2005 and being a key part of the 2005 Premiership winning side.
Farah is currently the most capped player at the Club playing 247 games over 13 seasons.
Farah was named the Player of the Year for the Club in 2006, and twice finished second in the Dally M voting, as he had some outstanding individual seasons with his ability to create line breaks and tries through his running game, subtle passing game and left footed short kicking game.
He would have a stellar 2007 by being again named the Player of the Year for the Club, and then being awarded the Dally M Hooker of the Year and being one point behind Johnathan Thurston for the Player of the Year award.
Farah is be the longest serving Captain of the team, captaining for seven seasons and he has represented NSW 16 times, and played 8 Tests for Australia.
- Position – Halfback
- Games for WT – 73 (2004-2006)
- Win/Loss Ratio at WT – 36 Wins, 37 Losses
Scott Prince was somewhat of a marquee signing for the Wests Tigers when he joined the Club in 2004 after some injury laced years at the Brisbane Broncos.
Prince was an extremely naturally gifted halfback who only needed a run of luck with injuries to turn things around, and he did that quickly under his former Cowboys’ coach Tim Sheens at the Tigers.
Prince was instrumental in the side building on a solid 2004 season, by blowing everyone away in 2005 with a breathtaking style of football, as the Tigers stunned the NRL by winning the Premiership.
His combination with Benji Marshall was one of the most dynamic, albeit brief, partnerships in the history of the game.
The 2005 Clive Churchill Medal winer shocked many Tigers’ fans by deciding to head home to Queensland to take up a multi-year deal with the Titans in 2007.
He played for Queensland five times, and Australia four, and was the first player from the joint venture to play Origin.
- Position – Wing
- Games for Wests Tigers – 82 Games (2004-2005, 2014-2016)
- Win/Loss Ratio at Wests Tigers – 38 Wins, 44 Losses
Pat Richards was signed by the Wests Tigers in 2004 after playing his first four seasons at the NRL at the Parramatta Eels.
Richards would only manage 11 games in 2004 due to an ankle injury, however he would star in the 2005 Premiership winning side from the wing.
His booming kick-offs, ability to finish off backline moves and height made him a weapon on the wing for the emerging Tigers.
Many will long remember him playing the 2005 Grand Final with a serious ankle injury, with Benji Marshall’s famous “flick pass” finding Richards for a remarkable Grand Final try.
Richards left the Tigers in 2005 and compiled an astoundingly successful career in the UK Super League.
He returned in 2014 when he became the Club’s first choice goal kicker. In his four seasons overall, Richards would play 82 games and score 446 points for Wests Tigers.
- Position – Front Row
- Games for WT – 186 Games (2000-2006, 2009-2010)
- Games for Wests Magpies – 63
- Win-Loss Ratio for WT – 57 Wins, 55 Losses
Skandalis was the last original Western Suburbs player remaining at the Wests Tigers Club after the merger in 2000.
He scored the first try for the Wests Tigers in 2000 in their debut game against Brisbane at Campbelltown Stadium.
Skando, as he was affectionately known, was a consistent and reliable performer in the hardest position on the field.
He made the 2002 and 2004 City side and was named Wests Tigers’ Player of the Year in 2002.
Skandalis was a member of the Wests Tigers team that won the 2005 NRL Grand Final against the Cowboys.
He left the Club in 2006 to play with Huddersfield in the UK, before returning in 2009. Due to injuries and a lack of depth Skando came out of semi-retirement to play 19 games in 2009 and 2010 combined, before retiring.
He has held various roles at the Club now for several years, from strength and conditioning, to assistant coach to corporate sales.
- Position – Back Row/Lock
- Games for WT – 201 Games (2003-2012)
- Win/Loss Ratio at Wests Tigers – 102, 99 Losses
A central Coast junior, Chris Heighington debuted for Wests Tigers in 2003 and quickly became a regular in the Wests Tigers side following his first couple of seasons.
He was a key impact player off the bench in 2005 in the Club’s maiden Premiership victory in 2005.
Heighington then established himself as a whole hearted starting back rower over several season.
He was named the Club’s Player of the Year in 2008, and played for both the Country Origin and the Prime Minister’s XIII team.
Heighington was the first player in the Club’s history to pass the 200 games for the club milestone.
He was somewhat of an ironman, featuring in every game in the 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 seasons.
With the club under Salary Cap pressure, Heighington left at the end of 2012 to take up a contract with the Sharks.
Who is the best of the bunch? Have we missed anyone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.