Saturday 8th Feb, Wests Tigers v Panthers - Kirkham Oval, Camden. KO:7.30pm
TIGERS: Braith Anasta, Blake Austin, Adam Blair, Robbie Farah, Asipeli Fine, James Gavet, Dene Halatau, Marika Koroibete, Chris Lawrence, Keith Lulia, Mitchell Moses, David Nofoaluma, Cory Paterson, Pat Richards, Kurtis Rowe, Curtis Sironen, Martin Taupau, James Tedesco, Bodene Thompson, Aaron Woods
Saturday 8th Feb, Wests Tigers v Eels - ANZAC Oval, Alice Springs, KO:9.10pm (AEST)
TIGERS: Sitaleki Akauola, Sonny Bristow, Corey Brown, Jack Buchanan, Michael Bullock, Jarred Farlow, Andy Fiagatusa, Jy Hitchcox, Sam Hollis, Inno Innosesio, Joel Luani, Allan McGrath, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Ava Seumanufagai, Setefano Taukafa, Nathan Waters, Luke Williams
Season 2014 officially begins this weekend with two trials for our NRL boys. The first will see a strong squad head to Camden to tackle the Panthers. Whilst a combined NRL/NSW Cup squad will head to Alice Springs and clash with the Eels.
Kirkham Oval will be somewhat of a homecoming for Fullback James Tedesco and coach Mick Potter, having spent time on the oval in their early days. There’s plenty to like about the squad picked for this match too. New recruits Blake Austin, Dene Halatau, Keith Lulia, Cory Paterson, Pat Richards and Martin Taupau will all play.
A host of players are also unavailable for the weekend. The most notable of those absentees include Luke Brooks (back), Liam Fulton, Keith Galloway (toe), Tim Simona (shoulder) and Nathan Brown (pectoral).
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR?
Apart from the new recruits pulling on the shirt, there is plenty of other points of interest regarding the squad. First and foremost, it’s going to be very interesting to get a look at our younger guys from last season. Physically they should be stronger and with the sprint work the outside backs have been doing in pre season, it’s going to be very interesting to see the improvements in speed for the likes of Chris Lawrence, Marika Koroibete, James Tedesco and David Nofoaluma.
There’s some untested NRL talent on display too, led by Mitchell Moses and Kurtis Rowe. Asipeli Fine also gets a chance to impress with the top squad. One suspects the halves pairing to start the game will be Anasta/Austin but I do expect Mitchell Moses to get plenty of time to impress as well in the halves.
Interestingly, Joel Luani was named with the other squad which means Dene Halatau is likely to see some game time at hooker. James Gavet, Chris Lawrence and Marika Koroibete also come back off injury disrupted 2013’s and will be simply looking to build fitness and confidence up.
Up in Alice Springs, a combined NRL/NSW Cup squad will meet the Parramatta Eels. The squad here is much weaker and would do well to simply trouble the Eels. Of the NRL contingent, Joel Luani, Jack Buchanan, Ava Seumanufagai and Ben Murdoch-Masila all travel north. I view this decision largely down to coach Potter wanting to give the 4 forwards plenty of minutes and therefore opportunity to gain match fitness. Certainly more than they’d gain as back ups in Sydney.
I’m hoping here that we’ll hear positive reports on all the fringe players. Luani as Farah’s back up, Taqele Naiyaravoro as the developing winger, Ben Murdoch-Masila as the man who has so much potential and only yet realized it in flashes here and there. It’s an important hit out for these 3 especially.
Outside of that trio, other players to keep an eye on are Under 20’s graduate Andy Fiagatusa, Sitaleki Akauola, returning former 20’s product Stefano Taukafa and former magpie Nathan Waters. Yileen Gordon though has been omitted from that squad after his contract was terminated by the club last night for disciplinary reasons.
All in all this weekend is all about blowing the cobwebs away and staying fit and healthy. Player development is always high on the list of things too look out for in trials. Combinations, game plans and consistency will not be factors to watch out for just yet. Though it’s always nice to win!