NRL bad boys Tim Smith, Brett Seymour and Arana Taumata get game time to try and relaunch careers
By Steve Jancetic From: AAP February 14, 2010 4:34PM
THE All Stars battle may have celebrated reconciliation, but for a bunch of NRL bad boys it was all about redemption on the first official weekend of pre-season trials.
A long way away from the glitz and glamour of a packed out Skilled Park, Arana Taumata, Brett Seymour and Tim Smith all took the first tentative steps in getting their once promising careers back on track.
In the case of Taumata and Smith, it was their first taste of the NRL since 2008, while Seymour’s lifeline with the Warriors came after he was shown the door by Cronulla midway through last season following a string of off-field incidents.
All three emerged victorious in their first games for their new clubs, with Taumata’s Wests Tigers beating North Queensland 28-4 in Mackay, Smith piloting Brisbane to a 24-12 win over Melbourne in Rockhampton and Seymour given the honour of captaining the Warriors in their 26-8 demolition of the Sydney Roosters in Rotorua.
In the other NRL trial, Manly beat Cronulla 18-4 at Toyota Stadium on Friday night.
In Mackay, on a wet Tiger Park playing surface, Taumata showed enough in 40 minutes of action to suggest he was well in the running for the Tigers’ No.7 jumper after being cut by Melbourne before the start of last season.
The Storm were the fourth NRL club - after Brisbane, the Sydney Roosters and the Bulldogs - to show him the door, but Taumata looks to have made a bright start to life in the black and gold.
"Arana played the second half, he added a fair bit of spark, he showed good footwork, good pace,‘’ said recruitment manager Warren McDonnell.
"It was good to see him get a hit-out and get used to it.
"He played half and five-eighth - we had a couple (playing alongside him) in Jay Florimo, who had a good game, and Blake Lazarus.‘’
Taumata is likely to again share playmaking duties with Tim Moltzen and Robert Lui in the Tigers’ two remaining trial matches as the trio battle it out for the right to partner Benji Marshall in the halves.
Smith faces an even more difficult task trying to get a start in the NRL this year with representative stars Darren Lockyer and Peter Wallace Brisbane’s first choice halves pairing.
Stand-in Broncos coach Anthony Griffin said he was pleased to see Smith show glimpses of the type of play which saw him named NRL rookie of the year in 2005 when with Parramatta.
"He was a bit rusty after not playing a game for so long but he had a good hit-out,‘’ Griffin said.
"He had some nice touches and a good kicking game. He combined well with (five-eighth Ben) Hunt. They both showed a lot of composure with the ball.‘’
In his first game in eight months and first for his new club, Seymour was amazingly handed the Warriors’ captaincy, and looked impressive in guiding an understrength side to an easy win over the Roosters.
Seymour played 55 minutes and kicked three conversions, coach Ivan Cleary saying his new No.7 "was very good with his all-round game and the way he organised the side’'.
The only major injury concern was to young Broncos recruit Rohan Ahern, with the former Rooster likely to be out for six to eight weeks after suffering a suspected medial ligament strain.