It’s shaping as a family affair this Sunday when Wests Tigers face the Penrith Panthers out at Pepper Stadium with a number of intriguing storylines to follow.
The well-publicised Ivan Cleary v Nathan Cleary battle has taken centre stage, but there’s also the Watene-Zelezniak showdown on the wing with Malakai directly marking up against his brother Dallin, whom he debuted with earlier this year at Penrith.
And that got us thinking as to the best Wests Tigers family connections we’ve seen, with the best five brought to you in this week’s Top Five at Five, thanks to ShareCare.
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Jason and Nathan Cayless
After beginning his career at Parramatta alongside his brother Nathan, Jason Cayless moved to the Sydney Roosters and had a long stint in England before returning to the NRL to join Wests Tigers in 2010. Jason only played the first three games of the season, but remarkably, one of those was against his brother, who captained the Eels in Round 3. Jason came off the bench and helped Wests Tigers to a 23-12 victory in what would turn out to be his final NRL game — returning in 2011 due to a number of injuries.
Malakai and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
It’s one of the big storylines to watch out for this weekend, particularly given the close nature of the Watene-Zelezniak brothers and the fact they are marking up against each other on the wing. Despite being four years older, Malakai only made his first-grade debut earlier this year for Penrith — playing out on the wing alongside his brother Dallin and even setting him up for a try in the Panthers’ win over the Rabbitohs. Since then, Malakai made the mid-season switch to Wests Tigers and will remarkably now line up against the New Zealand international in what’s certainly a special day for the family.
Kevin and Ken McGuinness
A surname iconic with the foundation of Wests Tigers, the McGuinness brothers played together for the Western Suburbs Magpies from 1995 to 1999, before lining up against each other at Wests Tigers in 2000. They were the first set of brothers to play for Wests Tigers with Kevin featuring in 54 games for the Club while Ken played just six.
Ivan and Nathan Cleary
It’s rare to see a coach and son in the NRL, and it’s going to be even more bizarre for the Cleary household this weekend when Coach Ivan takes on his son Nathan, who’s at the Penrith Panthers. Not since Bob McCarthy’s Gold Coast Chargers took on a Bulldogs side featuring his son Darren 28 years ago has a player coached against his own son, with John Lang coaching his son Martin at the Panthers the most recent example of this link.
Alan and Jason Shirnack
Another brotherly combination to feature together at Wests Tigers, Alan and Jason Shirnack only had short first-grade careers — Alan played 14 games from 2009 to 2011 while Jason played three games from 2010 to 2011 — but the brothers did manage to feature in the same game on one occasion. Taking on the New Zealand Warriors early in the 2011 season, Alan was a late inclusion in the starting side while Jason came off the bench in a 20-12 win for Wests Tigers in a rare Saturday night game at Leichhardt Oval.