Wests Tigers fans this weekend will get a further glimpse into the future of the NRL franchise. The inaugural Auckland Nines tournament takes place this Saturday and Sunday at Eden Park. For the Tigers, the tournament represents a good chance to get some miles in the legs and to tune in parts of their attacking game. The Wests Tigers squad is far from full strength with a mix of youth and experience provided.
WESTS TIGERS NRL NINES SQUAD
1. James Tedesco 3. Pat Richards 4. Bodene Thompson 5. Marika Koroibete 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Blake Austin 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Martin Taupau 11. Cory Paterson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Adam Blair 14. Manaia Cherrington 15. Kurtis Rowe 16. James Gavet (17th Man: Delouise Hoeter). 18. Ben Murdoch-Masila
Note: 18. Ben Murdoch-Masila replaces the originally named David Nofoaluma who has withdrawn with a minor hamstring strain.
The Tigers squad is highlighted by Captain Robbie Farah, and will rely heavily on his craftsmanship to steer the side around the park. Attacking threats in James Tedesco, Pat Richards, Marika Koroibete can expect to profit from the play of Farah, Blake Austin and potential wildcard, Mitchell Moses. Tedesco’s ball playing skills are also something of a threat.
Bodene Thompson. Adam Blair, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Curtis Sironen will provide the forward mobility, whilst the the second phase play of Aaron Woods, Blair, Martin Taupau and Cory Paterson will be vital in the Nines concept.
The Nines represents a wonderful opportunity for rookies Mitchell Moses, Manaia Cherrington, Kurtis Rowe and, should he get on the field, Delouise Hoeter. Moses will shape as a potential wild card for the Tigers. A playmaker who can make things happen. Cherrington is highly rated and the tournament will be valuable learning experience for the kid who could eventually replace Robbie Farah. Kurtis Rowe shapes as a very likely back up fullback for James Tedesco and the experience here will be valuable for the talented custodian.
Coach Mick Potter has named what is, as predicted, a very balanced squad. There’s experience. There’s size, speed, power and creativity. There’s no doubt the absence of both Tim Simona and David Nofoaluma is a massive loss for the side though. Both these guys would’ve been stars in this format of the game. Making it out of the group will be the first goal. From there, every step is a bonus.
There’s no doubt Robbie Farah is the main man here. His creativity, his vision and his work rate will be vital. He’s a smart player who this format should suit.
ONE TO WATCH:
Unquestionably…Mitchell Moses. Like Farah, his game should be suited to this format of play. His skill and vision make him a very dangerous proposition.
UNLUCKY TO MISS OUT:
Taqele Naiyaravoro, Jy Hitchcox, Chris Lawrence, Sauso Sue,
WESTS TIGERS DRAW:
All times local
Game 2 - v Titans, 1pm
Game 9 - v Sharks, 4.20pm
Game 18 - v Knights, 12.25pm