Various media outlets in the past couple of weeks have reported that Wests Tigers Coach Michael Maguire has had contract talks with St George Illawarra Dragons captain Cameron McInnes for the 2022 season and beyond.
For the first time in a while, the Wests Tigers recruitment team have a bit of space in the salary cap with the departure of Josh Reynolds and Russell Packer coming off-contract at the end of the 2021 season which means it is crucial that the Club targets the right kind of players on big money going forward if we as fans hope to take the ever-elusive step back into finals footy.
So often in the past, the Tigers have targeted the wrong type of player to bring to the club on big money but I truly believe that Cameron McInnes is the type of player worth going all-in for.
Having recently cracked Brad Fittler’s 27-man origin squad, McInnis has established himself around the league as a first-class leader on and off the field with the ability to change a game for his team with effort plays rarely demonstrated by other players.
Here are 3 reasons the Tigers should go all-in on McInnes:
In a similar mold to Harry Grant, McInnes’s strength is his ability to impact a game with the extra one-percenters that sometimes go undervalued in the modern game.
Look up McInnes’s charge down on Adam Reynolds against Souths or his one on one goal-line defense against Bronson Xerri when the Dragons played the Sharks.
It’s these kinds of effort plays by a team that leads to finals success at the end of the season when a team plays with that kind of commitment and desperation consistently.
McInnes is also a genuine workhorse in the middle of the field which the Tigers desperately need.
The Dragons Captain recorded the third-most tackles in 2020 behind Damien Cook and Api Koroisau with 978 and averaging a 95% successful tackle percentage.
The only question mark around McInnes is his creativity in attack. In 2020, the Dragons Captain only recorded 2 try assists and 1 line-break assist.
This stat is a little misleading however because McInnes shifted from Hooker to Lock on numerous occasions throughout 2020.
Since his arrival to the Dragons in 2017, McInnes recorded a career-high of 9 try-assists in 2018 along with 5 in 2019.
It’s fair to argue that these attacking stats should factor in on the amount of money that the Tigers offer McInnes but I think the good far outweighs the bad in this situation especially considering just how much the Tigers struggled defensively in 2020.
Someone like McInnes, along with a healthy Alex Twal, could be the defensive cornerstone pieces that the Tigers need to be successful moving forward.
The fit between both parties works really well because the Tigers don’t currently have an established number 9 in the squad but the Dragons captain’s ability to play Lock means that that if either Jacob Liddle or Jake Simpkin have a break-out year in 2021, both players can be accommodated in the starting 13.
One could even make the argument that McInnes is a better lock than he is a Hooker.
In 2020, McInnes averaged 120 meters from 13 runs which are really impressive considering he averaged these stats switching between 9 and 13.
During his games at Lock, McInnes also ran for 200 meters in round 17 against the Cowboys and 190 meters against the Titans in round 16.
With the game becoming quicker and quicker every year, teams that carry smaller ball-playing locks like McInnes have an extra dimension to their attack that often proves lethal.
Look no further to players like Cam Murray and Victor Radley and what they can bring to a team’s attack.
One of Madge’s guys
Having played under Madge at Souths, McInnes knows the deal he’s signing up for. So if the Tigers can land the Hookers signature, they have a real leader who can support the coach and his intense coaching methods from within the locker room and bring the playing group closer together.
From an outsider’s point of view, it’s hard to argue that Maguire coaching methods didn’t mix well with the entire squad in 2020 and most fans would agree that a few players regressed in their performances on the field.
McInnes is a player that will drive standards from within the club. Along with James Tamou, McInnes fits the leadership mold that Maguire is looking for that would help make other players accountable.
Teams like the Rooster have Boyd Cordner who would literally run into a wall to win for his team and teams like South Sydney had Sam Burgess who led with his actions on the field which inspired the rest of the squad to reach their best.
Although a smaller player, I would still put McInnes in the inspirational leader’s category of the NRL.