The Wests Tigers have capped off one of the worst seasons in the club's history with an unwanted stat, while the Rabbitohs have also made an embarrassing NRL-era first after their capitulation in 2023. Tigers fans have endured a horror season with coach Tim Sheens leaving the role as head coach less than a season after taking charge from Michael Maguire.
Benji Marshall took over for three games, but the Tigers were absolutely humiliated in round 27 against Manly 54-12 to end the season on a new low. The Tigers finished with just four wins and with a for-and-against of -290.
FLOPS AND SHOCKS: Where your NRL team went wrong in 2023
This saw the Tigers become the first team in the NRL era to get the wooden spoon and still go down the ladder the following year. They finished 16th in 2022 and 17th in 2023 due to the Dolphins' inclusion.
In terms of the ARL era, the last team to go down the ladder after winning the spoon was the Western Suburbs Magpies, who finished 13th in 1987 and 16th in 1988. Wests famously united with the Balmain Tigers to form the Wests Tigers in 1999.
Fans couldn't help but crack a joke at the poor run of form from the Tigers with one fan noting it was in their DNA to finish last. Marshall will be left with an absolutely mammoth task next year to turn the club around.
So it’s the DNA. At least that’s something….
— Dane Ryan (@TheRealDaneRyan) September 1, 2023
16th to 17th
So officially have gotten worse
— NRL IMMORTAL (@NRLIMMORTAL) August 13, 2023
Yes but the mighty Wests Tigers club is the first, in probably the history of the game, to finish last (16th) then do even worse the next year (17th). That takes some doing. #nrl
— Steven Deare (@StevenDeare) September 1, 2023
The Rabbitohs also made unwanted history after a remarkable capitulation in 2023. South Sydney were sitting top of the table after round 11. However, their loss to the Roosters on Friday not meant they missed out in finishing in the top eight.
Not since 1992 - and prior to the league adopting a top-eight finals system - has a team gone from top of the ladder in round 11 or later to miss out on the finals. The Rabbitohs' season went downhill after injuries to key players - including Latrell Mitchell and centre Campbell Graham - coupled with a drastic dip in their defensive numbers.
Coaching drama continues at Wests Tigers
Next year, the Tigers will lose halfback Luke Brooks to Manly. The halfback may have been a maligned player at the club, but it will end his 11-year run at Wests Tigers. During recent times, Brooks has seen a number of coaching changes.
Sheens was behind the sacking of former coach Michael Maguire after being brought in as the Tigers' head of football. He was then installed as head coach, with the Tigers eventually putting a succession plan in place for Marshall to take over as head coach in 2025 - a decision that has since been brought forward one year.
The club's tumultuous 2023 has also led to reports of a falling out between the Tigers' coaching staff and new head of recruitment, Scott Fulton. The former Manly recruitment head was brought to the Tigers this year to help re-shape the club's playing roster but has reportedly butted heads with Marshall about the type of players they need.
Despite the introduction of premiership winner Api Koroisau as club captain, the Tigers finished 17th. The Tigers have now failed to make the finals for 12 straight years.
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