Five Wests Tigers' Holden Cup players in 2014 will be part of the full-time extended NRL squad in 2015 as they continue to build towards their first-grade debut.
Over the coming few days, Wests Tigers will preview the next generation of talent coming into the ranks of the full-time NRL squad next season.
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Coming off a season that culminated in his selection in the 2014 NYC Holden Cup Team of the Year as well as the Junior Kiwis train-onside, hooker Manaia Cherrington says he’s ready to take on the next challenge as he makes the move up to the full-time squad in 2015.
Cherrington, who got a preview of first-grade when he was selected in the Club’s 2014 Auckland Nines squad, will be looking to establish himself and learn from captain Robbie Farah, and said that he was excited to develop alongside one of the game’s greats.
“I’ve been at Wests Tigers for a little while now,” he said, “and all the time I’ve been looking forward to stepping up and making it as a first-grade player.
“Moving to full-time training next year is going to be key in making that happen.
“All the boys have been very supportive of me over the years, but especially Robbie. He’s been great in helping me learn the game and take advantage of things around the ruck and also how to work on my defence as well... Just little things like watching him play and the things he does, and then trying to take that back into my own game.
“I’m really excited about 2015 and playing alongside my mates to show what I can do.”
A member of Balmain Tigers’ SG Ball winning squad in 2012 alongside the likes of Mitchell Moses and Nathan Milone, Cherrington moved up to Holden Cup in 2013 — playing every game for the Club as they made it to the second round of the finals.
After being selected in the Junior Kiwis squad at the end of that year, Cherrington then built on that platform with a strong 2014 as he spent time in the Club’s NYC and NSW Cup squads, and captained the side in the back half of the year when regular captain Nathan Milone went down with a season-ending knee injury in Round 13.
Wests Tigers NYC Assistant Coach Balin Cupples said that Cherrington’s hard work and skillset would hold him in good stead as he makes the step up to full-time training.
“Manaia’s had a solid two years of playing under-20’s now,” Cupples said.
“Skill wise, he’s always been in the top echelon of players. In terms of his position, he’s worked really hard on his contact and his defence, and it’s something that he’s going to have to continue to work hard on to succeed, which he knows.
“That comes down to his body weight and his work in the gym. He’s managed to maintain his five-kilogram increase in muscle mass that he put on over the pre-season, which is hard to do for guys that play all season and as many minutes as he does.
“Manaia’s ticked a lot of boxes in the NYC program, and with a couple more NRL pre-seasons under his belt, he’s going to be a force at the first-grade level no doubt.”
The former Whangarei junior also signed a new deal with Wests Tigers in 2014 that will see him remain with the Club until the end of the 2016 season.
Player Profile: Manaia Cherrington
D.O.B. — 2nd August, 1994
Position — Hooker
Junior Clubs — Whangarei, New Zealand
Rep. Honours — Junior Kiwis (2013), NYC Team of the Year (2014)