Taylor reveals the 'horrendous' salary cap situation facing club

Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor at Campbelltown Stadium. Picture: Anna Warr
Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor at Campbelltown Stadium. Picture: Anna Warr

Jason Taylor has revealed the Wests Tigers' salary cap is so dire that the club is over the limit for next year and it could take up to three seasons to fix the "horrendous" situation.

The Wests Tigers are currently sitting in last place and are going through a difficult transition period under a new coach and management, while fans are questioning why the club hasn't been more active in retaining and recruiting talent, powerbrokers have been hamstrung due to years of rostering mismanagement.

In an extensive interview with Fairfax Media, Taylor opened up about the salary cap debacle, the side's more structured style of play and his plans to turn around a side which has underperformed since its breakthrough premiership victory a decade ago.

Salary cap

The club has been panned for their decision to release a string of contracted players in the off-season including Blake Austin.

Austin has been a revelation since joining Canberra and is now being spoken about as a potential Origin option for NSW next season.

"The decisions we made at the start of the year of letting players go was purely based around the position with our salary cap at that point in time," Taylor explained.

"In a word, it was horrendous. We had to start by letting some players go straight away, not so that it would make a difference this year or even next year. Those decisions were made so we can genuinely go into the market down the track and that will probably start to happen in a better fashion in three years' time.

"It's hard for people to get their head around how it works, but to put things into perspective we're currently over the salary cap for next year and there are some players with us that we'd still like to re-sign."

Stand-in chief executive Phil Moss inherited similar problems during his tenure at Penrith and had to make unpopular decisions - such as moving on local juniors Luke Lewis and Michael Jennings - to ensure sustainable success.

Moss is now working closely with Taylor to ensure the joint-venture club can also emerge from a difficult period due to a raft of inflated and back-ended deals.

"We started working on our salary cap in November last year and we are still working hard to get to a point where it's working for us and not against us," Taylor said.

"At the moment it's working against us. It's making what we're trying to do at the club a lot tougher than what it should be. We'd like to think we can be in the market for top-line players sooner rather than later but we'll have to look at our roster and how we manage it.

"You can only move the players other clubs are prepared to take. With Blake Austin, he had already signed to go to Canberra for 2016 so we were resigned to losing him anyway. So with the cap as it is, our hand was forced."

Results

The Tigers currently sit in bottom spot on the ladder. Long-suffering fans hoping for a quick fix have been disappointed.

Taylor understands their frustrations but is adamant he is witnessing improvements under the new systems he is implementing.

"The competition ladder and the scoreboard at the end of the game is one thing, but how we're training, how we're improving and the team we're becoming is still happening, despite what it looks like from the outside.

"If anybody thinks I'm saying 'the board is supportive and [results] don't matter' - it matters. Big time.

"It's a tough environment but it's my job to keep everyone's head in the right direction and keep working hard."

Playing style

Since signing up as coach, Taylor has placed a greater emphasis on defence, while also adding more structure to the attack. Some claim this is going against everything the Wests Tigers stand for and unnecessarily shackling the flair of young guns Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses.

"We are developing a tougher style," Taylor explained. "It's not that attack is not important but the best defensive teams win the competition and we must continue to develop ourselves to compete with the best teams.

"We don't want to coach any of the footy out of the players. The coaching staff is conscious we've got young talented players.

The future

Taylor is confident the changes he has made - from overhauling players' diets to adjusting playing styles and rosters - will pay dividends in the long term.

He is also fostering a culture of accountability, as evidenced by his decision not to slam referees for bad calls.

While the results have been disappointing, Taylor will be sticking to his systems and philosophies in the belief they will pay off.

"Are we better than at the start of the year? Absolutely. Is that showing on the field? Not right now. But it will."

This story Taylor reveals the 'horrendous' salary cap situation facing club first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.