Six club debutants to feature against Roosters

Six club debutants to feature against Roosters

Six players will make their club debuts for Wests Tigers this Saturday when they take on the Sydney Roosters in their season opener at ANZ Stadium.

New recruits Corey Thompson, Pita Godinet, Ben Matulino and Robbie Rochow have been named along with co-captains Josh Reynolds and Russell Packer to make their first official appearance in Wests Tigers colours as Ivan Cleary’s new-look side takes to the field for the first time.  

Off the back of his superb trial form, Thompson has earned a starting spot on the wing ahead of David Nofoaluma for Saturday’s season opener — partnering young gun Esan Marsters on the right edge with Kevin Naiqama and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak on the left edge. 

Reynolds will slot in at five-eighth alongside Luke Brooks in the halves, while Packer, Matulino, Godinet and Rochow will form a new look forward pack in 2018 with co-captains Chris Lawrence and Elijah Taylor the only forwards remaining from last year’s team.

A Samoan international, Godinet has also been rewarded for his strong pre-season and form in the trial matches, earning selection ahead of Matt McIlwrick and Jacob Liddle, who continues to work his way back from off-season shoulder surgery. 

Benji Marshall’s name is perhaps the most pleasing sight for Wests Tigers fans in this week’s team, with the Life Member set to play his first game in 1646 days for the club. The 33-year-old remains the club’s all-time points scorer and equal leading try-scorer along with Lawrence on 76 tries.

Second year forwards Matt Eisenhuth and Alex Twal also earn themselves selection on the bench, while Michael Chee Kam rounds out the highly competitive 17-man team to take on the Roosters.

Tim Grant has been named alongside McIlwrick, Nofoaluma and Milne in the reserves.

 

WESTS TIGERS CLUB DEBUTANTS

Player 209: Corey Thompson

Player 210: Josh Reynolds

Player 211: Russell Packer

Player 212: Pita Godinet

Player 213: Ben Matulino

Player 214: Robbie Rochow

  

WESTS TIGERS ROUND 1 TEAM

1. Tuimoala Lolohea
2. Corey Thompson
3. Esan Marsters
4. Kevin Naiqama
5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
6. Josh Reynolds
7. Luke Brooks
8. Russell Packer
9. Pita Godinet
10. Ben Matulino
11. Chris Lawrence (capt.)
12. Robbie Rochow
13. Elijah Taylor

Interchange:
14. Benji Marshall
15. Alex Twal
16. Michael Chee Kam
17. Matt Eisenhuth

Reserves:
18. Matt McIlwrick
19. David Nofoaluma
20. Tim Grant
21. Taane Milne

Coach: Ivan Cleary