Captain Robbie Farah is confident the Wests Tigers can cover the key losses of fullback James Tedesco and five-eighth Braith Anasta to keep their impressive start to the NRL season going against North Queensland on Saturday night.
The fifth-placed Tigers meet the 11th-placed Cowboys minus the key pair, who have been key figures in their 3-2 start to the season and morale-boosting wins over South Sydney and Manly.
Tedesco will miss around nine weeks due to an ankle injury suffered against the Sea Eagles while Anasta is serving a one-week ban for a shoulder charge.
Junior Kiwi Kurtis Rowe will replace Tedesco at the back in his NRL debut and former Penrith pivot Blake Austin will step in for Anasta in his first game for the club.
“I don’t want to compare them (Tedesco and Rowe),” Farah said on Friday.
"But Kurtis is a really good kid, look at the way he has played the last couple of years in NYC - nearly 40 tries in 45 games - so he has shown he is a class above at that level.
“He has been doing the same in NSW Cup and he deserves the chance. He has been playing great footy for some time.”
Farah also heaped praise on Austin.
“He was in great form in our trials and was unlucky not to get a spot in our 17,” Farah said.
"But he didn’t drop his head, which is a credit to him. It is always difficult when you miss out on the first side of they year but he has gone back to NSW Cup and brained them.
"He has been the best player in that comp.
“He has scored seven tries and won them the last two games on the bell so he has shown he can come up with the clutch plays. He is ready.”
Farah said the challenge for the Tigers was to repeat their effort against Manly when they meet the Cowboys at Campbelltown Stadium.
“I thought our first half (against Manly) was probably the best first half of footy we have played in a long time,” said Farah.
"The challenge now is for us to maintain that benchmark.
“Consistency has always been a problem within this joint for the last couple of years, that is something we are focused on.”
The Tigers announced on Friday that winger David Nofoaluma had re-signed in a deal that will keep him at the club until the end of the 2017 season.
Go tiges let’s give the cowgirls a lesson in rugby league !!!