NRL fans rally around Ronnie Palmer after sad 53-year first for legendary trainer

The unexpected news comes amid some major upheaval at the Wests Tigers.

Ronnie Palmer, pictured here with the Wests Tigers.
Ronnie Palmer has been let go by the Wests Tigers. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Ronnie Palmer has been let go by the Wests Tigers and won't be part of an NRL pre-season for the first time in 52 years. It emerged over the weekend that the legendary trainer had parted ways with the Tigers after officials told him his services were no longer required.

Palmer, who is a cult hero amongst players and fans, has been part of an NRL pre-season in some shape or form since 1971. He made his debut with the Balmain Tigers that year, playing 35 games for the club.

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He went on to become the game's leading strength and conditioning trainer and spent 24 seasons working with the Sydney Roosters. He has also worked with the Eels, Panthers and Titans in recent years, before returning to where it all began at the Tigers. He has also worked as trainer for the NSW State of Origin team and Australian Kangaroos.

Ronnie Palmer.
Ronnie Palmer has worked with the NSW State of Origin team and the Australian Kangaroos. Image: Getty

“I feel quite a bit lost,” Palmer told the Daily Telegraph about being out of a job. “I haven’t been in this situation since I was 21.

“The Tigers told me they weren’t going to renew my contract. These things happen and you have to move on. I feel a little bit let down but you have to cop these things and move on. There’s no sour grapes here.”

The 72-year-old is hopeful he'll be snapped up by another club ahead of the 2024 season. “I know that I have a lot to offer,” he said. “I would still love to be involved. It gets a bit difficult. When you get a bit older they shuffle you along."

Ronnie Palmer departs amid more upheaval at Wests Tigers

The development comes amid some major upheaval at the Tigers, with Tim Sheens departing at the end of last season to make way for Benji Marshall to take over as head coach. The original plan was for Sheens to mentor Marshall this year and next, but Benji has taken over one year early after the Tigers suffered back-to-back wooden spoon finishes.

Assistant coach David Furner was also sacked despite having one year remaining on his contract, with Tigers powerbrokers reportedly over-ruling Marshall's wishes for him to stay. A respected former NRL player and head coach, Furner was a loyal assistant of Sheens, but has become the latest victim of a coaching clean-out at the embattled club.

According to NRL insider 'The Mole', Furner had been promised a job by Marshall for 2024. But Marshall was reportedly over-ruled, and Furner was sent packing.

The club's recruitment manager Warren McDonnell, who was dubbed Sheens' "right hand man", has also followed him and Furner out the door in recent months. While the club insists Sheens offered to stand down so Marshall could take over, rumours have been circulating that he was sacked.

Sheens was conspicuously absent from the club's end of season awards night, with former teammate Royce Simmons revealing he didn't want to stand down. “If you weren’t wanted at the club, how could you go to their presentation night?" Simmons told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“They sacked him. And I can only imagine how frustrated Tim is. It’s sad to see. He wasn’t given the opportunity to do what he wanted to do. You bring a coach back who has won a premiership, and is in the top bracket of coaches of all time, you look to his expertise, then you don’t use it. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

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