COLUMN: Youngsters learn a lot from a tough year

Wests Tigers are narrowly defeated by the North Queensland cowboys 8-0 at Campbelltown Stadium, 23.5.14. Pictures: Anna Warr
Wests Tigers are narrowly defeated by the North Queensland cowboys 8-0 at Campbelltown Stadium, 23.5.14. Pictures: Anna Warr

It's fair to say Wests Tigers exceeded all expectations in 2005 when they won their first premiership, in just their sixth year competing as the joint venture.

In fact, it's fair to say there weren't many expectations on the club at all in its early years.

Since that night on October 2, 2005, the club has been unable to live up to the hype.

Take this season for instance.

While many armchair critics had been quick to heap the pressure on young halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks, anyone who had watched a game of rugby league in their life knew it would be a tough year for the two.

Really, no one expected a whole lot from the extremely young side in general.

Unfortunately for Moses and Brooks, they hit the ground running, leading their side to two straight wins to start the season. Big mistake fellas.

A convincing loss to South Sydney in round three was seen as a hiccup while the one-point loss to the Bulldogs the following week was just bad luck.

A big win against the Parramatta Eels in round five meant commentators and fans expected the unexpected — a Wests Tigers side September bound in 2016.

But when it came down to the crunch, the side just couldn't live up to the expectations.

It's worth remembering few thought Wests Tigers would be genuine title contenders at the start of this year, so they haven't really failed on that account.

If they do want to challenge for the premiership, the players — particularly the abundance of youngsters — need to learn to deliver when it counts.

There is no point beating the Melbourne Storm then the Canberra Raiders — in the cold of the nation's capital — if you can't beat cellar dwellers the Newcastle Knights when you are expected to.

As strong as Martin Taupau is, even he can't bear that weight on his own shoulders alone.