Lock is the most flexible position in rugby league. It can be anything. It all depends on what the coach believes the team needs.
General characteristics of a lock include:
- Some teams use their 13 as an extra prop (Taumalolo, Carrigan, Tapine, Asofa-Solomona, Brandon Smith)
- Some want a tackling machine with a high defensive work rate (Elijah Taylor, Twal, McInnes, Trbojevic, Yeo, Jackson)
- Some want a ball-playing lock to stand at first receiver, so the halves can have more depth/width (Radley, Trbojevic, Peachey, Nathan Brown, Murray, Sonny Bill)
- And some just want a smaller forward with speed (Brandon Smith, Murray, Bateman).
I think it is important that the lock provides at least two of these traits. I think ball-playing ability is the most important one. The last time I can remember our attack truly clicking was in 2016 when Taylor stood at first receiver to feed Mitchell Moses out the back.
It all depends on the make up of the team. If you have someone like Benji Marshall in your team, who likes to feed the second rowers from first receiver, you don’t really need a ball-playing lock. If you have a player in your team like Cody Walker or James Maloney, who can use their speed to hit a hole, you need a ball-playing 13 to offer that option.
In terms of Wests Tigers, we probably need a ball-playing lock with Harry Grant and Benji leaving. Someone to stand at first receiver to give whoever is the 5/8 next year more space. They would be guaranteed perfect service from Liddle, so it would work in theory.
Grant offers threat around the ruck, so you don’t really need that extra ball player when he’s in the team. And Benji prefers standing at first receiver, so with him gone, I think our other halves options would benefit from another play maker to give them time and space.
In my opinion, McIntyre can fulfil this role. He seems to have decent ball skills. The only unknown is the amount of minutes he can play. If he can do 55 minutes, then someone like Eisenhuth (assuming he is here next year) can fill the space when he’s off the field.