Addo-Carr on track for NRL debut
Sat 20 Feb, 2016, 7:00am
By Martin Gabor, National Correspondent, NRL.com
The race to replace Pat Richards at the Wests Tigers is heating up. Literally.
A taxing training session took its toll on the team earlier in the week, with players put through their paces in a 90-minute hit-out in stifling conditions at Campbelltown Stadium.
One of the players vying for the recently vacated left-wing spot is new recruit Josh Addo-Carr.
The former Shark was a sensation in the Holden Cup, scoring 28 tries from 44 appearances in the under-20s competition.
The 20-year-old is one of the fastest players in rugby league, and has made an impressive start to his career at the Tigers, scoring a double in the side’s trial win over the Storm.
He also made the trip across the ditch to play in the Auckland Nines; an experience he believes helped get rid of the butterflies.
“The first game - playing in front of so many people - I was just a bit nervous, but as the games went on, it got a bit better. It was just unfortunate we didn’t make the finals,” Addo-Carr told NRL.com.
“At the start of the year, I was a bit rusty. I think it was just the nerves, and I didn’t know any of the boys. And probably because I was the only indigenous player until a couple of the boys came down, but now I’m fitting right in.”
While he spent the weekend impressing coaches on the Sunshine Coast, Addo-Carr was closely following the NRL All Stars match in Brisbane.
The concept means a lot to the youngster, who was a member of the Redfern All-Blacks side that won last year’s Koori Knockout.
He hopes to one day represent the Indigenous side in the annual pre-season fixture.
“Representing my family and culture’s a big thing for me. I’m a proud black man, and I’d just love to be a part of that,” he said.
Before that can happen, Addo-Carr must find a way to force his way into a Tigers backline brimming with talent. He’ll get another chance to prove himself when he faces his former club this weekend.
The uncapped winger holds no grudges against the Sharks for letting him go, and is excited to come up against some familiar faces.
“[The move was] just an opportunity to make the top grade. I don’t think the Sharks wanted me to go any further than 20s, so I’m thankful for an opportunity here,” he said.
“My goal is probably to make my NRL debut and just try to cement a spot in the first-grade squad and just play well for the team and do my job.”
While he is able to play anywhere in the backline, Addo-Carr is hoping to earn a spot on the wing at some point this season.
David Nofoaluma appears to have one spot locked down, with the other flank set to be filled by either Addo-Carr, Justin Hunt, or the bolter, Jordan Rankin.
Addo-Carr welcomes the competition, telling NRL.com that his ‘rivals’ - who have helped his transition to the club – deserve first crack on the wing.
“I think it’s out of Jordan Rankin and Justin Hunt. I think they’re both good, experienced players, and I hope they do well and get the spot.”
The rookie believes all the work put in during pre-season has the club in good stead to make the finals for the first time since 2011.
“The mood’s good. The pre season’s been tough,” Addo-Carr said.
"We did an army camp a couple weeks back, and I think doing that has allowed us to come closer. It was all about mental toughness and working together, so I think by doing that, we’ve gelled together.
“We’ve gone into this season really well. We’ve trained hard, sticking in, doing the one per-centers. I think if we keep doing that, we’re just going to smash teams off the park.”