After slumping to a disappointing 30-6 defeat to the Panthers on the weekend, Tigers coach Michael Maguire was resigned to the fact that his side’s season was over.
Despite promising signs during the year he was unable to take the team to their first finals appearance since 2011.
Maguire conceded that the time was now to test combinations for the future, suggesting that part of his focus for team selections will be on next season.
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“I’ll definitely be looking at [picking the team with a focus on the future]. I want to be able to see the depths of some of the people we have in the organisation,” he said.
Unfortunately for legendary Tigers playmaker Benji Marshall, he won’t be part of that plan.
Marshall was keen to go around next year but the, as the Sydney Morning Herald first reported, the Tigers want to move on.
According to the Herald, a fuming Marshall learned about the club’s decision in the media and confronted Maguire in a tense 90-minute meeting on Monday,
While Maguire agreed to reconsider the club’s position, the issue was put to bed during a meeting between Marshall’s manager Matt Desira and Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe.
Marshall’s manager then hit the phones on Monday night and began spruiking the 35-year-old’s services to other clubs.
Form or Marshall’s age has little to do with the decision according to the Herald.
His try assist for David Nofoaluma on the weekend was his 16th – the second most behind Shaun Johnson.
Instead, it is the fact that the club has $1 million to put into five vacant spots in its roster and it is opting against spending more money on halves, with Marshall’s $300,000 salary better reinforcing other areas.
He is expected to still be part of the team for the final rounds of this season though.
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Josh Reynolds and Luke Brooks will both remain at the club and take up $1.6 million of the cap.
This is despite growing criticism of whether Brooks is the halfback to take the side forward and into the finals.
“The big question mark for me is Luke Brooks,” Fox League’s Michael Ennis said after the loss to Penrith.
“But the big question mark for me is Luke Brooks. This is the eighth season now where he hasn’t played finals. That’s 145 games and he hasn’t played a finals game.
“Michael Maguire needs to ask if he’s the guy that can take them to win a premiership.”
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Brooks has struggle to create with 10 total try involvements from 14 games.
In contrast, Nathan Cleary, Shaun Johnson and Marshall have 35, 32 and 23 respectively.
His game management has also been questioned along with his defence.
For the time being though it is Marshall who is set to leave the club.
Meanwhile, the Herald also reports that the eye towards the future is also expected to see gun hooker Harry Grant’s time in the side restricted or completely taken away.
Jacob Liddle will be given more time in the No. 9 jersey while rising star Jake Simpkin could also come in.