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The Wests Tigers have brought in another new recruit
  1. Rugby League
  2. NRL

NRL: Wests Tigers continue shopping spree

With the start of the new NRL season less than two months away, Wests Tigers appear to be building a strong squad after adding another new recruit to their forward pack.

Having finished rock-bottom in the 2022 campaign, Wests Tigers needed to bring in reinforcements during the off-season and that is exactly what they have been able to do.

Forward pack looking stronger

David Klemmer, Isaiah Papalii, Apisai Koroisau and John Bateman have been added to the roster, adding quality to their forward pack, but the shopping spree has not stopped with the quartet.

Head coach Tim Sheens has now managed to bring in Manly Sea Eagles forward James Roumanos, who didn't make his NRL debut until the final round of 2022 against the Canterbury Bulldogs.

He came off the bench in that narrow 21-20 defeat for a nine-minute cameo, making three runs for 39 metres and putting in eight tackles.

The 23-year-old may not have huge amounts of experience at NRL level but he did gain valuable minutes for Lebanon at the World Cup, starting all four games as his country lost to Australia in the quarter-finals.

Lebanon won two and lost one of their three Group C matches to reach the last-eight stage, only to then find the Aussies far too powerful as they went down 48-4 at the John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield.

Roumanos may have to bide his time

While the new recruit will be hoping to force his way into the starting side from the off, he may have to be patient for an opportunity given the amount of competition for places.

Along with Klemmer, Papalii, Koroisau and Bateman, Roumanos will be battling for a spot in the 17 with young forwards Shawn Blore, Justin Matamua, Fonua Pole and Stefano Utoikamanu.

Wests Tigers begin their NRL campaign with a home clash against Gold Coast Titans on 5th March and the hosts are 11/10 To Win, while the visitors are priced at 3/4.

The Tigers can also be backed at 91/100 at +1.5 Handicap in Game Betting 2-Way, while the Titans are 91/100 at -1.5.

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Cup venture to begin with

It is thought that Roumanos won't feature in that opening NRL contest and will instead be handed his debut against the Sydney Roosters in the NSW Cup, representing the Western Suburbs Magpies.

The Magpies departed the top-flight competition in 1999 after forming a 50-50 joint venture with Balmain Tigers to form the Wests Tigers, but the club still fields sides in the NSW State Cup, Ron Massey Cup, S.G. Ball Cup (Under 18's) and Harold Matthews Cup (Under 16's) competitions.

Roumanos has been added to the squad for the 2023 season, along with experienced utility Will Smith and 2022 Jersey Flegg Cup Player of the Year, James Valevatu.

Stark improvement needed

While the Wests Tigers have made some good additions to their squad, a big improvement will be required if they are going To Reach the Grand Final at odds of 25/1.

Just four victories were recorded from 24 NRL games last season as they finished bottom of the pile, a massive 20 points adrift of qualifying for the Finals Series.

A total of 679 points were conceded last term - the second-worst record behind the New Zealand Warriors (700) - while their tally of 352 points scored was the lowest in the division.

It does seem like Sheens has attempted to arrest the alarming defensive form, having brought in Klemmer, Papalii, Koroisau and Bateman, who joined after a short spell back in the Super League with Wigan Warriors.

The England international has signed a four-year deal to return to the NRL, having played for Canberra Raiders in 2019 and 2020, and he brings a wealth of experience with him.

Whether he can inspire his new employers to Grand Final glory at 50/1 is another question, but his presence should at least bring renewed optimism with it and also help some of the younger players in the squad.

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