Penrith back-rower Viliame Kikau is set to test out returning Wests Tigers playmaker Josh Reynolds in what will be his first NRL game in nine months. Ryan Matterson has been assigned to be Josh Reynold’s bodyguard against barnstorming Penrith back-rower Viliame Kikau as the Wests Tigers playmaker makes his first NRL appearance in nine months.
Fijian giant Kikau will have his Reynolds in his crosshairs during Friday’s clash at Panthers Stadium.
Kikau sat out the first three rounds because of a knee injury but returns in a major boost for the under-fire Panthers.
Likewise, Reynolds is playing his first NRL game of the season after being overlooked in favour of Benji Marshall in the opening rounds.
The former NSW Origin representative and two-time grand finalist hasn’t made a first grade appearance since round 16 last year, when his season was cut short by a shoulder injury.
And back-rower Kikau, touted as one of the most damaging ball runners in the game, looks set to present a huge test of his defensive capabilities and confidence.
Kikau will start on the left edge, meaning he will be running at Reynolds on the Tigers’ right edge all night.
But Tigers coach Michael Maguire said Reynolds wouldn’t have to handle the assignment alone, with Matterson tasked with helping him out.
“I’ve got Ryan Matterson there, he’s a decent size,” Maguire said.
"It’ll be a good battle between those two (Kikau and Matterson). Ryan Matterson has really grown into our team, he’s put everything into his game.
"He’s a good size so I’m sure people will be talking about Ryan Matterson.
“He’s a solid defender. It’s a great test for him. He’s got a pretty high standard.”
Reynolds has looked impressive in his two NSW Cup appearances over the last fortnight, with the highlight two tries and four try assists against the Warriors reserve grade side.
The 29-year-old has played just five first grade games since his arrival at Concord last year but Maguire dismissed concerns about his fitness.
“Definitely, he’s fit, that’s never a worry with Josh,” Maguire said.
“He’ll handle it really well and you’ve got to remember he’s got a lot of experience at the highest of levels - Origins and grand finals. I’ve got no hesitation about bringing him in.”