Ava Seumanufagai will lead the Wests Tigers’ engine room this week against a monster South Sydney pack that includes English enforcer Thomas Burgess.
Seumanufagai will be a key man for the Wests Tigers tonight after the late withdrawal of Tim Grant (ankle) adding to the gap left in the forward pack by injured skipper Aaron Woods, who will push for a return to the field in Round 10.
Burgess, along with brothers Sam and George, will be out to prove a point with their side suffering three consecutive losses in recent weeks to Brisbane, North Queensland and the Roosters.
On the other hand, there will be no shortage of motivation for the Wests Tigers pack, with Seumanufagai the only forward to record over 100 metres against Canberra last week in the Club’s sixth straight loss.
Seumanufagai, along with fellow enforcer Sauaso Sue, will lead a young Wests Tigers prop rotation including rookies Josh Aloiai and JJ Felise.
Expect a bruising encounter between two desperate sides, with Seumanufagai and Burgess to be right amongst the carnage in the middle of ANZ Stadium tonight.
Seumanufagai and Burgess have met on four occasions previously, with the Rabbitohs prop forward winning three of those clashes.
However, Seumanufagai came out on top during their last meeting, a dominant 34-6 performance by Wests Tigers.
During that Round 14 encounter, Seumanufagai was arguably the Wests Tigers’ best forward with 162 metres and 22 tackles.
Ava quickly gaining experience…
Seumanufagai has already notched up 71 NRL games after making his NRL debut in 2013.
The Wainuiomata Lions junior has missed just two matches since his debut, which has resulted in him becoming the fourth most experienced player in the team to play Souths tonight.
Only Robbie Farah, Dene Halatau and Chris Lawrence have played more games than Seumanufagai (noting Tim Grant’s withdrawal from the game).
Burgess slowing increasing game time…
Thomas Burgess made his return from an ankle injury in Round 5 against Manly-Warringah, playing just 26 minutes in his side’s 16-12 victory.
Following on from that, the former Bradford Bull played just 21 minutes against the Sydney Roosters, however he has almost doubled his game time in the two more recent games.
Against North Queensland in Round 7, Burgess played 39 minutes in a dour night for the Rabbitohs who suffered a 44-18 loss at 1300SMILES Stadium.
Burgess turned in his best performance of 2016 last week against Brisbane, making 116 metres and 26 tackles in a 46-minute spell in the absence of his twin brother George.