Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens is refusing to confirm young sensation James Tedesco will be his fullback for the NRL season opener but, either way, it appears Tim Moltzen’s days in the No.1 are over.
Moltzen starred alongside five-eighth Benji Marshall in Saturday night’s 20-12 trial win over Parramatta, the performance erasing any doubt Sheens would have had about the utility finding a home at halfback.
But while the halves are in order, there’s still plenty of question marks over who will take Moltzen’s place at the back, with Tedesco overcoming a nervous start in which he fumbled with his first two touches in his own in-goal to put in a solid effort.
Former Parramatta utility Tom Humble also spent some time at fullback, while another ex-Eel in Joel Reddy and Mitch Brown could also be an option for round one against Cronulla at Leichhardt.
“He took one in the air and took a knock, and then he got a knee in the mouth, so he had a tough night for the first half,” Sheens said of Tedesco.
"He’s sharp, but there’s a long way to go yet before we’re talking about maybe our No.1 fullback.
"But he certainly showed plenty of enthusiasm, good speed.
“Tommy went well there too, Brown will be playing next week as well - I’ll just still experiment with that in the short term.”
Asked whether Tedesco was favourite to snare a start for round one, Sheens said: “I’m not making the decision on that just at this stage - I’m not saying I’m not (going to pick him), but I’m not going to make a statement about whether he will or won’t.”
“There’s another trial next week, a couple of weeks training, lots of things can happen - I need to have a real good look at the whole thing before I make a decision.”
Sheens said he was pleased with the work of his halves, particularly in the first half when they laid on three of the Tigers’ four tries.
“They’re quick … they’d be the quickest halves I think in the (competition) as a pair,” he said of Marshall and Moltzen.
“I was pretty happy with them.”
Sheens also confirmed skipper Robbie Farah and centre Chris Lawrence would play in his side’s final trial against Sydney Roosters at Campbelltown on Saturday night
Alexi did you see Utai last night? Simply sensational and his form on that game alone has demanded that he be named on the wing. He was just so solid. Before last night I wasn’t that keen for him to be there but after that trial I have changed my mind.
I think if Reddy was a chance for fullback he would have had some time there last night. Everyone has talked up how good Reddy played, but he did drop a lot of ball which was unfortunate. He will be better for the run.