Wests Tigers Coach Ivan Cleary will welcome back some added firepower for his side’s must-win game against the St. George-Illawarra Dragons at Leichhardt Oval. As they look to keep their finals hopes alive following back-to-back victories, Wests Tigers have been boosted by the returns of Mahe Fonua and Chris Lawrence for Saturday’s pivotal game — both players included in the run-on side as Wests Tigers look to close the gap on the eighth-placed Brisbane Broncos.
Fonua has not played since suffering a broken arm in Round 15, while Lawrence will play his first game since picking a hamstring strain and broken hand in his side’s victory over the Dragons back in Round 18.
Fonua’s return sees Kevin Naiqama move to the wing and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak back to the reserves, while Lawrence’s inclusion on the left edge sees in-form forward Michael Chee Kam shift to the right. Luke Garner drops back to the bench where he is joined by Alex Twal, Matt Eisenhuth and Sauaso Sue.
Young gun hooker Jacob Liddle has once again been named amongst the reserves with plenty of big selection issues for Coach Ivan Cleary given the impressive form of all four forwards named on the bench.
Liddle joins Watene-Zelezniak on the reserves list with Tyson Gamble and Robbie Rochow, who have both been named in the club’s Intrust Super Premiership team to take on Wyong on Saturday afternoon. Benji Marshall formally captains the side on Saturday as Wests Tigers look to make it three wins in a row.
For the Dragons, Coach Paul McGregor has named Kurt Mann at five-eighth in place of England international Gareth Widdop, who picked up a dislocated shoulder in last week’s loss to the Eels.
He partners Ben Hunt in the halves with rookie Jordan Pereira returning to the wing.
On the bench, Jacob Host comes back in with Paul Vaughan (ankle) still unavailable, while talented younsters Zac Lomax and Jai Field join Hame Sele and Darren Nicholls amongst the reserves.