Robert Lui will run out against Manly wearing the coveted number seven jersey with the full backing of his team-mates according to Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah.
The battle for the number seven jersey between Lui and Tim Moltzen has been one of the most talked about positions over summer. Moltzen at seven was one of the major reasons Wests Tigers enjoyed their winning run late last season in the charge to the finals. He was then shifted back to full-back, a position he is equally as comfortable in, to allow the talented Lui to partner Benji Marshall in the halves.
Moltzen played full-back in the trials with Lui at seven. Coach Tim Sheens has elected to go that way for Monday night’s round one clash against the Sea Eagles at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Lui was one of the real shining lights in the Wests Tigers U20s team in 2009 and his efforts saw him named the Toyota Cup five-eighth of the year. Lui’s combination with Farah in the final trial win over Cronulla in Gosford was lethal at times and had a lasting impression on Sheens.
“There is plenty of confidence within the boys in Robert Lui,’’ Farah said.
“He has stepped up a lot from last year. He is more confident and is talking more now as a half-back which was probably his downfall late last year.
“Coming into a side as a young kid and trying to dominate myself and Benji is a pretty hard thing to do.
“Having spent the whole off-season at half-back, he has more confidence in his game. Robert has speed, strength and a good passing and kicking game, so I’m really excited about the season he is going to have.”
Sheens said Manly would be targeting Lui just as much as his players would with their rookie half-back in Kieran Foran. Sheens also said plenty of attention had again been focused on full-back Brett Stewart and second-rower Anthony Watmough.
“Both boys were stand outs in the U20s last year. We will try to pressure Kieran and they will try to do that with Robert. I think with Marshall and Farah there, Robert doesn’t have to play a leading role whereas young Foran is probably expected to,” Sheens said.
“It is interesting but we are more focused on making sure Brett Stewart doesn’t score three tries against us.
“Stewart and Watmough have been the two danger people against us and that is not disregarding anyone else in the game. Stewart regularly gets his season started with us. He did it at Brookvale last year.
“They seem to play well against us. Whether that is because of the style of game they play or the type of people they are or the fact they feel confident against us, so we will have to make sure we limit there opportunities as much as we can.”
Kick-off at the SFS is 7pm.
By Wayne Cousins