‘It’s the truth’: Tigers reveal all in compelling new doco
This is rugby league's West Side Story.
Fox Sports cameras have been discreetly filming a historic, all-access, five-part documentary series featuring every aspect of the Wests Tigers organisation, from inside dressing rooms to private team meetings.
Wests Tigers players, coaches, fans and officials will star in the most unrestricted documentary in rugby league history.
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"We committed as a club to make it an honest look into the Wests Tigers for 2021," Wests Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe said.
"We're not shying away from anything - good, bad or indifferent. It is what happens at a rugby league club, it's the truth and it will be compelling viewing."
Cameras have been permitted inside the club's coaching box, on-field, training, dressing rooms before, during and after matches, even vision inside the private homes of leading players.
Pascoe and Fox Sports executive director Steve Crawley have been working on the expansive project for the past 18 months. Aware of the potential imposition, Pascoe sought approval for the documentary from the club's senior playing group.
"There is a lot of work to be done yet but Wests Tigers have done exactly what they promised - they have opened the doors and there's been no restrictions," Crawley said. "We hope the end product is a success."
During Sunday's game against Parramatta, head coach Michael Maguire was wired up, as was high performance coach Ron Palmer. A camera set up in the coaching box was framed on Maguire all game.
A dedicated camera was focused purely on Palmer last Sunday. Pascoe was mic'd up for Wests Tigers' match Newcastle the previous week.
Cameras have even entered the home of Pascoe and skipper James Tamou. There are also plans to film the home life of winger David Nofoaluma and centre James Roberts.
Fans will also be interviewed.
The five-part series - with each show spanning one hour - will debut on Kayo mid-season and then be shown on Fox League. The series is expected to be narrated by Yvonne Sampson.
The first episode will be shown mid-season with remaining shows to be screened over the back-end of the season. The five-part series may increase to six should Wests Tigers reach the finals.
Fox Sports has dedicated staff and cameras on the project to capture every moment.
Essentially, Fox will spend the entire the year with Wests Tigers.
"It really is open access," Pascoe said. "We have the coach on board and I spent some time with the leadership group to get all the players on board.
"This is about some tough conversations, it's about our fans, players' families, game day and how game day operates behind the scenes. As a club we have always proven to be fairly innovative in this space.
"Fox have been very good in giving us the final cut but understanding that, while we are happy to give open access, which makes it better in terms of content and viewing, that they are still respectful around space.
"They have this new whiz-bang camera which has been awesome, where they can film from miles away but still get the same footage. They will be one-hour episodes, so there will be a lot of content."
While most NRL clubs routinely shut down media publicity, those close to the documentary claim Wests Tigers have a "progressive thinking coach and CEO".
There are hopes the documentary may also be shown overseas.
"Our brand is enormous - look at all the metrics around viewership, Sunday games, free-to-air games, Fox games, all our digital stats, they are extraordinarily positive for a team that hasn't had a lot of on-field success over the last umpteenth years," Pascoe said
"I'm a big believer in bringing the outside world into the club, giving them an opportunity to engage and attach themselves with the club, and seeing the real truth about the club. Hopefully there is an opportunity to be broader.
"They have come and filmed my kids and a night in the life of Justin Pascoe.
"They went to the home of Jimmy Tamou the other day. I don't think they have gone to Nofa's or Jimmy Roberts yet but they will do that soon.
"This is also as much about the fan as it is the club and the player."
Channel 9 has also been applauded for allowing Fox's cameras into dressing rooms on games when the free-to-air broadcaster has exclusive rights for the game.
Originally published as 'It's the truth': Tigers reveal all in compelling new doco