While Wests Tigers will field a near full-strength team for Saturday’s NRL trial against the Cronulla Sharks, Coach Jason Taylor says that a few positions still remain open heading into the Club’s opening game of the season next fortnight.
Taylor enthused that the Club’s squad for its second trial match this weekend is “pretty close” to the side that will open the season against the New Zealand Warriors on March 5, but still remains undecided on a handful of positions in the squad.
“This week’s team is pretty close to [as it would be] in Round 1,” he said.
“We’ve really built the depth at this Club over the off-season and we’re really happy with how that’s looking, but there’s plenty of guys who are pushing hard for a spot.”
While he wouldn’t give too much away on which of those players are likely to feature in Round 1, Taylor did indicate that several new faces would feature against the Warriors.
“We’ve got a battle in the halves between Jack Littlejohn and Josh Drinkwater to cover Luke Brooks who’s suspended for Round 1,” Taylor said. “Josh got injured in the Nines, so that’s put him on the back foot a bit but he’ll play some minutes this weekend and give himself a chance while Jack will spend some time with Mitch [Moses] in the halves.
“We’ve also got a left wing spot up for grabs that Jordan Rankin, Josh Addo-Carr and Justin Hunt are battling for, and that’s been good to help push each of them.
“And then there’s a number of forwards who are fighting for a bench spot,” he said.
“Jack Buchanan picked up a bit of an injury, which meant he didn’t come to the Sunshine Coast. Jesse Parahi was one who would have been pushing hard for that spot had he not got injured… but they’re only minor injuries and they should only miss a week or two.
“Josh Aloiai is another guy who played well last week against Melbourne, and we’ll give him another opportunity to show that he can do that again this weekend.
“So there’s plenty of spots, which means there’s good healthy competition in our team.”
See what Taylor had to say in full about this week’s trial team and more in the video above.
Wests Tigers Trial Team vs. Sharks
1. James Tedesco
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Tim Simona
4. Kevin Naiqama
5. Justin Hunt
18. Mitchell Moses
7. Jack Littlejohn
8. Aaron Woods (C)
9. Robbie Farah
10. Tim Grant
11. Curtis Sironen
12. Chris Lawrence
13. Sauaso Sue
6. Jordan Rankin
14. Ava Seumanufagai
15. Josh Aloiai
16. Manaia Cherrington
17. Kyle Lovett
20. Josh Drinkwater
Coach: Jason Taylor
11:15am — Gates Open
11:30am — Harold Matthews: Western Suburbs Magpies vs. Cronulla Sharks
1:00pm — SG Ball: Western Suburbs Magpies vs. Cronulla Sharks
3:00pm — NYC Holden Cup: Wests Tigers vs. Cronulla Sharks
5:00pm — NSW Cup: Wests Tigers vs. Newtown Jets
7:00pm — NRL: Wests Tigers vs. Cronulla Sharks