Having watched the young hooker waiting in the wings for several years, Jacob Liddle’s teammates are confident in a big future for the No.9 after announcing a new deal with the club.
The contract extension announced on Tuesday will see Liddle remain with Wests Tigers until the end of 2021, with the retirement of Robbie Farah at season’s end opening up the number nine jersey for the Wyong Roos junior in 2020.
Still only 22 years of age, Liddle has already chalked up 36 games in his NRL career including five tries and has featured nine times for Michael Maguire’s side in 2019.
While not included in the side to face the Bulldogs this Saturday, Liddle’s teammates were full of praise for the young hooker during the week — believing he has all the tools to become one of the most dominant number nines in the game.
“He’s made a lot of improvements over the last two years,” Chris Lawrence said.
"He’s a very shy kid but as he’s getting more comfortable around the group. He’s become much more dominant which you have to be to be a hooker.
"His speed out of dummy half is great — he’s probably the quickest here at the club — and he’s so dangerous when he gets that broken play.
“One thing he’s really improved on is his defence. Obviously, as a young hooker coming through you’re a target for those big forwards and it takes a few years to adapt and get your defence right. But that’s something I’ve noticed over the last 12 months, he’s really improved there and it’s a strong part of his game now.”
Luke Brooks echoed Lawrence’s comments, saying that his ability was certainly capable of taking him alongside some of the best in the game.
“He’s a great player, just with his speed out of dummy half,” he said. "He’s got that speed that a lot of hookers don’t really have — he’s in a mould of a Damien Cook.
“He’s had a tough time over the past couple years with injury and Robbie owning that position but with his retirement, there is a spot for Jacob to make the hooker position his own.
“His defence over this past year has definitely improved with a lot of wrestle we’ve been doing, especially under Michael Maguire. That’s really helped him — he’s actually getting a lot bigger and has gone from 80kgs to 90kgs already."
Liddle’s retention caps off a strong period of signing news for the Maguire’s side with young talent in Josh Aloiai (signed until 2021) and Thomas Mikaele (signed until 2021) joining the likes of Corey Thompson (signed until 2021) and Michael Chee Kam (signed until 2021) in committing their futures to Wests Tigers.
Maguire praised Liddle’s professionalism on and off the field, and said he looked forward to watching the hooker continue his development.
“I’m really excited to see Jacob commit his future to Wests Tigers,” Maguire said.
“I’ve been thoroughly impressed with his character and the way he has developed as a player both on and off the field this year. He has shown tremendous progress and I look forward to watching him now take the next steps in his career.
“Jacob has grown really well in his time at the club so far and has added some great attributes to his game. With his genuine speed and creativity, we know he can take this team to another level and we’re excited to see him do that going forward.”