• Will Cashmore

The Set Of Six: Mediocre NRL Players – Wests Tigers

You should have picked up by now, that I am a Wests Tigers fan.

Why? Well I just hate having fun, because since becoming a really invested supporter I have seen my boys play finals footy just once. So naturally, this is going to get ugly fast.

Whether it be our fetish for teasing the fans and coming 9th place almost annually, or our unfathomable ability to constantly let superstar players walk out of the joint, the Tigers just know how to leave their fan base at their wits end.

I know I’m at mine.

This is the final edition of the Mediocre NRL Players SET OF SIX, so what better way for me to celebrate, then to once again relive my worst nightmares come true.

Brendan Santi (2014-2015) – 11 Games

To begin this carousel of garbage, I need to air a grievance that has been hibernating deep within me for quite some time.

Around the time Aaron Woods grew his hair out to look more like his twin sister Sharon or Aunty Karen, he was dubbed ‘The Jesus Of The NRL’. Not because he was a saviour of the once famous Tigers, but because he looked like the almighty.

However, there was another shaggy Prop Forward on the Tigers’ books during this time, who started coming off the bench looking like he’d just dismounted from the cross.

Brendan Santi was the original Jesus of the Tigers and NRL, and Woods was merely riding his coattails. I will never forgive Aaron for this.

If you don’t believe me, look up Brendan Santi and tell me he doesn’t look like Jesus’s twin.

He’d be a WINX odds to win a lookalike contest.

Keith Lulia (2014-2015) – 12 Games, 5 Tries

Keith has been a popular name in the history of the Wests Tigers, and Balmain/Western Suburbs before it. With icons such as Keith Barnes and Keith Galloway, you could always rely on a Keith to do special things in a Tigers jersey.

Step right up Mr Lulia.

A classic first-grade plunderer, Keith Lulia would have gone through life in the NRL without barely making a splash across a three-club, six year career, had he not had an absolute field day one Sunday arvo in 2015.

Scoring 4 tries on the end of a rapid fire backline of youth, featuring the likes of Mitch Moses and Luke Brooks, Lulia became a household name for all of the next few weeks, before he was simply forgotten once again.

If you’re only going to get fifteen minutes of fame, you may as well equal a club record. He could have done plenty worse.

Cory Paterson (2014) – 9 Games, 1 Try, 2 Goals

Cory Paterson lacked confidence in himself throughout his NRL career. This is not an outsider’s assessment of the man’s character, this is simply me repeating Paterson’s own confession.

He struggled with self-doubt at times, but that is crazy. Paterson was a jack of all trades, and won a lot of fans for being so.

In 2008, Cory trialled with the Oakland Raiders NFL franchise as a potential punter. Everyone’s heard the stories of Jason Taumalolo and Willie Mason having NRL tryouts, but I bet this is the first you’ve heard of Cory Paterson doing the same.

He stuck with the Steeden sport, and wound up at Concord after stints elsewhere, playing a handy 9 games before retiring to become a boxer.

Cory found himself in the ring, and then really found himself, going undefeated in 2 bouts, before returning to Rugby League in the Super League.

His unique story gets him on this list of mediocrity, but still all I can say is good on you Cory.

Blake Ayshford (2009-2013) – 104 Games, 33 Tries

For the decade he spent in the NRL, Blake Ayshford was the poster boy for mediocrity.

In his last couple years at the Warriors, Blake offered so little that he became somewhat of a last resort option to fill a gap in first grade.

The saving grace of his NRL career however, was when he capitalised on some utterly bonkers Benji Marshall magic, to score one of 2009’s best tries. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Parramatta faced off with the Tigers at the SFS in late ’09, in a match which was promoted as Hayne vs Marshall. Late in the game Wests were attacking the Eels line, when Benji at the peak of his powers received a cut out ball, skipped across field, dummied and then flick passed to Ayshford who planted down in the corner.

Every week at Mixed Oztag, I try to replicate that Benji Magic. Always to no avail.

Joel Edwards (2016-2017) – 20 Games, 1 Try

Signing Joel Edwards as a new recruit, is the Rugby League equivalent of the final nail in the coffin. It’s the sort of recruitment decision that gets blokes fired.

Legend has it, that when the Tigers mercilessly put themselves out of their misery by sacking the redhead Gumby, that every club made DO NOT SIGN JOEL EDWARDS their number one rule.

Whilst this might seem a tad harsh, since the forward worked hard and tried his best every time he pulled on the boots, it really isn’t. Edwards was the sort of player who just made fans quake in their boots every time he was named. “Surely we’ve got someone better than Joel Edwards?” an entire fanbase would cry. Anyone else would be an upgrade.

Unfortunately, there was a time where for the Tigers, Joel Edwards was as good as it got. Hard to believe really.

Jordan Rankin (2016-2017) – 23 Games, 7 Tries, 28 Goals

He may have irritated an entire playing group enough to warrant David Fa’alogo punching him in the head at a South Sydney Mad Monday, but this does not even come close to Jason Taylor’s stupidest coaching moment.

I will never ever forgive him for picking Jordan Rankin on the Wing in Round 1 2016, ahead of a yet to debut Josh Addo-Carr.

In the lead-up to that season, my Tigers acquired both JAC and Rankin.

One was a half-decent goal kicker, whose only claim to fame is being the youngest first-grade debutant since 1936, debuting at 16 years of age for the Titans in 2008. The other was a lightening quick, powerful big bodied winger, who just two years later was playing State Of Origin, and the next year after that earned a Kangaroos jersey.

Yet for some BULLSHIT reason, Taylor went with Rankin. It was this lack of NRL opportunity that made Josh want out, and now he is the game’s premier Winger at the Storm.


Did we miss anyone out?

Who would be in your Mediocre Tigers Set of Six?

So that’s the 16 NRL Teams done and dusted, but wait there’s more.

Tune in next week for a special State Of Origin edition of the SET OF SIX.

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