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New faces set for Wests Tigers debuts

Five players will play their first NRL game for Wests Tigers in Sunday's season opener against the Dragons — just the second time in history the club will field as many new faces in the one game.

Joey Leilua, Adam Doueihi, Billy Walters, Luciano Leilua and Zane Musgrove will all make their club debuts against St. George-Illawarra this Sunday with Coach Michael Maguire naming all five of the club's off-season signings in the Round 1 game.

Barring any late injury changes, the older of the two Leilua brothers will become the 226th player to debut for Wests Tigers, with Doueihi (227), Walters (228), Leilua (229) and Musgrove (230) all earning their Wests Tigers player numbers.

It's just the second time in Wests Tigers history that five players have made their club debuts in the same game, with the season opener in 2018 seeing Corey Thompson, Russell Packer, Pita Godinet, Ben Matulino and Robbie Rochow all debut in a 10-8 win over the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium.

Corey Thompson scores the winning try in his Wests Tigers debut in 2018.
Corey Thompson scores the winning try in his Wests Tigers debut in 2018. ©NRL Photos

And you've got to go back a long way in the history books to find more club debutants in a single game (excluding the first ever game in 2000, of course) with only one game in the Wests Tigers records seeing more debutants.

That game was the season opener of 2004, which saw a staggering 10 new faces make their debuts for Wests Tigers in a 12-6 win over Cronulla.

Brett Hodgson, Jason Moodie, Shane Elford, Scott Prince, Chris Paterson, Nick Graham, Scott Sattler, Ben Reynolds, Chris Heighington and Bryce Gibbs all featured for the first time in Wests Tigers colours as Tim Sheens' side ground out a six-point win, with Elford and Hodgson both getting on the scoresheet.

With a win in that game and a win back in 2018's season opener, the signs are certainly good as far as the record books go for Sunday's clash against the Dragons, with kickoff set for 6:15pm AEDT at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.

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Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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