Wests Tigers Head Coach Mick Potter has revealed two key inclusions of this week’s team to face Parramatta exclusively to Members ahead of the full team announcement later this afternoon.
Joel Luani will slot in at hooker to replace the injured Robbie Farah and Braith Anasta will return from a one-match suspension at five-eighth.
Luani played three NRL matches in 2013, with his debut match coincidentally against Parramatta, and has been impressive this year in Wests Tigers’ NSW Cup side that sits in fifth place.
The Five Dock RSL junior travelled to last year’s World Cup with the USA Tomahawks, playing against Australia, Cook Islands, Wales and Scotland.
Potter said that while losing Farah was obviously disappointing, the experience Luani has gained in the backend of last year would help him slot straight back in to the NRL side.
“I think those three NRL games combined with the World Cup will be good for Joel, he has really improved in the off-season and has been one of the NSW Cup’s best players this year,” Potter said.
The 22-year-old has an excellent passing movement that Potter believes is a strong asset to have, especially for Anasta and Luke Brooks to capitalise on.
“I think that particular part of his game is from his Rugby Union background, he used to do a lot of practice with his passing and that’s followed him through to Rugby League,” Potter said.
“He is very proficient with his passing and it’s a luxury to have, I think you will see our halves getting really crisp ball this weekend.”
With the return of Anasta at five-eighth comes much-needed experience, and after losing captain Farah for a lengthy period of time it’s a timely inclusion.
“You need to have that balance with your leaders and young guys, as much as Blake Austin did a really good job for us, I don’t think Braith was going poorly (before suspension) so he deserves his spot back,” Potter said.
“There may be an opportunity in another position, that’s the good thing about Blake is that he can play numerous positions for us.”
Stay tuned for the full Round 7 team announcement to face Parramatta later this afternoon on weststigers.com.au