Wests Tigers are having a player shake-up

There are lots of internal goings-on inside the Wests Tigers camp that are sure to cause a ruckus.

Heighington – who is still under contract for 2013 – is close to finalising a three-year deal in the Shire to join former Tigers teammates Bryce Gibbs, Andrew Fifita and John Morris as early as November.

Beau Ryan is also being shopped around to rival clubs as the Tigers consider tapping a number of contracted players on the shoulder. Coach, Tim Sheens, denied any deals had been done, but he admitted, “there are some things that are going to happen that might make a few people unhappy”.

“There’s no doubt that we’ve got to do something in our recruitment area. We’re looking to improve our depth rather than our main roster,” said Sheens, who remains defiant that he will remain at the club despite speculation linking him to the Warriors.

“There are some things that are going to happen that might make a few people unhappy.

“But we’ve got to make some changes. I’m not going to say we have to turn everything upside down.

“That doesn’t mean everything is wrong. We’ve got to analyse everything. What was done right, we stick to – what wasn’t, we change.

“Every club prior to the team that runs second will do that this year.”

Sheens and the Tigers were forced to endure major internal waves midway through last season when the club was looking to offload popular players Heighington, Ryan, Liam Fulton and Gibbs.

Ultimately, Gibbs and prop Andrew Fifita were squeezed out in a move that threatened to derail the club’s 2011 title aspirations.

Gibbs had only just signed a three-year extension before he was released, a position Ryan finds himself in after the outside back recently negotiated a new deal with chief executive Stephen Humphreys.

Dual international Lote Tuqiri, currently off-contract, is also expected to struggle to secure a new deal.

It is understood Manly prop Brent Kite heads a list of players the Tigers are in negotiations with in a bid to bolster a roster as touted premiership favourites in March.

Braith Anasta, Eddy Pettybourne and Bodene Thompson will all join the club over the off-season to offset the departure of English international Ellis.

It is understood has been told Heighington is fuming at the latest move to squeeze him out.

“Chris has been a great servant to this club but we’re not looking past next year at this point,” Sheens said.

“I’m not saying we won’t re-sign him, but at this point we’re not looking to extend that contract.

“Our main priority would be Robbie Farah and possibly big Keith Galloway, who both have one year to go. Liam Fulton is another one.”

Sheens wants Royce Simmons to return to the Tigers as an assistant next season but was adamant that it would not cost any of his other support staff at the club – Steve Georgallis, Bryan Hyder, Grant Jones or Warren McDonnell – a job.

by Buford Balony


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