Wests Tigers will travel to WIN Stadium on Saturday to face the St George Illawarra Dragons in the first of two pre-season hit-outs for the Club.
Both coaches Jason Taylor and Paul McGregor have named relatively strong squads for the trial, with a good mix of experience and youth set to take the field.
This will be Wests Tigers’ first visit to Wollongong for a first-grade match since 2008, with the majority of recent encounters between the two sides being played at grounds such as ANZ Stadium, the Sydney Cricket Ground or Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
All eyes will be on the new recruits featuring in each side – with Jamal Idris and Matt McIlwrick set to pull-on the Wests Tigers jersey; while the Dragons have former Rabbitoh Cameron McInnes take the field.
It’ll be the first match of 2017 for a number of players who did not travel to the NRL Auckland Nines last weekend – including Idris, Tim Grant, David Nofoaluma and Chris Lawrence.
From St George Illawarra – experienced quartet Leeson Ah Mau, Tim Lafai, Josh McCrone and Jake Marketo will take the field for the first time this year.
Livewire Dragons halfback Jai Field, who impressed in the NRL Auckland Nines tournament last week, has also been named as he looks to push his claims for a first grade call-up.
Nine rookies have been named in the Wests Tigers squad for Saturday, including Holden Cup graduates Esan Marsters and Bayley Sironen who will be eager to impress leading into Round 1.
Following on from this match, Wests Tigers will host North Queensland at Campbelltown Sports Stadium next Friday night (February 17) in the final game before Round 1.
Date — Saturday, February 11
Time — 7:40pm AEST
Venue — WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Tickets — Click here
TV, Live Stream and Radio Information
Follow @WestsTigers on Twitter for live match commentary and scores
TV — No TV coverage
Live Stream — There will be no live stream of this match; highlights will be provided on weststigers.com.au post-game
Radio — No Radio Coverage
Josh Aloiai, Michael Chee Kam, Matt Eisenhuth, Jordan Grant, Tim Grant, Watson Heleta, Justin Hunt, Jamal Idris, Chris Lawrence, Connelly Lemuelu, Jack Littlejohn, Wes Lolo, Jeremy Marshall-King, Esan Marsters, Matt McIlwrick, Kevin Naiqama, David Nofoaluma, Jordan Rankin, Ava Seumanufagai, Bayley Sironen, Sauaso Sue, Moses Suli, Elijah Taylor
St George Illawarra Dragons
Leeson Ah Mau, Euan Aitken, Jack de Belin, Levi Dodd, Jai Field, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Reuben Garrick, Siliva Havili, Jacob Host, Tim Lafai, Blake Lawrie, Luciano Leilua, Kurt Mann, Jake Marketo, Will Matthews, Tyrone McCarthy, Josh McCrone, Cameron McInnes, Taane Milne, Shaun Nona, Reece Robson, Hame Sele, Tariq Sims.
- Jeremy Marshall-King comes up from the Club’s Intrust Super Premiership squad to provide depth in the playmaking roles for Wests Tigers.
- 15 players from Wests Tigers’ NRL Auckland Nines squad will back-up again this weekend.
- Dragons’ Holden Cup squad members Field, Rueben Garrick, Blake Lawrie and Reece Robson have been selected by Coach Paul McGregor.
- Wests Tigers missing key players including Mitch Moses (World All Stars), James Tedesco, Aaron Woods and Matt Ballin.
- Notable absentees from the Dragons include Gareth Widdop, Josh Dugan, Nene Macdonald and Paul Vaughan
Players to Watch
Jamal Idris (Wests Tigers)
Idris will take the field this weekend for the first time since April 11, 2015 - that’s 672 days since the former Australian and New South Wales star last featured for the Penrith Panthers. The Forster Hawks junior suffered a season-ending knee injury early in 2015, followed by his decision to take a break from rugby league last year. Having impressed in pre-season training, Idris will be hoping to return to his barnstorming best this year and it starts this Saturday with what will be an intriguing match for the powerful centre.
Jai Field (Dragons)
Field caught the eye of many at the NRL Auckland Nines tournament last weekend with a scintillating 90-metre solo try. The Shellharbour Sharks junior is pushing his claims for a first grade debut in Round 1, with a long-term injury to Drew Hutchinson leaving the Dragons’ number seven jersey vacant. Other contenders for the playmaking role include Josh McCrone and Shaun Nona, who have also been named for Saturday’s trial match.