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Jock Madden may still be feeling the aftereffects of Viliame Kikau running out him, but the young playmaker loved his opportunity of playing in the top grade against Penrith on Sunday.

With Adam Doueihi ruled out with a knee injury, Madden was handed his first start in the NRL (second career game) against the Panthers and he looked impressive throughout the 80 minutes.

“It was good to get out there — it was awesome to be back playing in the NRL,” Madden said.

“It was a very fast game. The Panthers are a very quality team, so it was a good opportunity for me.”

The 21-year-old said he enjoyed combining with halfback Luke Brooks — a mentor that has been valuable to his career progression.

“I thought we combined really well — we had a good week leading up into the game,” Madden said.

“There are patches we can still work on, but I thought it worked quite well together and I’m looking forward to getting back out there this weekend.

“Luke has played a lot of NRL games. He’s helped me along the way — how to control teams, his kicking game, his leadership.”

Due to the suspension of the reserve grade competitions in 2020 and 2021, Madden’s game time has been limited over the past two years, and although it’s been difficult at stages, the youngster has used to opportunity to be around the NRL squad to his advantage.

“It’s been difficult. I’ve probably only played 15 games in two seasons. It’s been very challenging,” he said.

“We’ve got to go into training each day with the right mindset to better yourself and being around the NRL guys has helped me.”

With a young squad at Wests Tigers, Madden is looking forward to taking his game to a new level in the coming years.

“I want to have another big pre-season this year and hopefully I can nail down a spot in the NRL team,” he said.

“Everyone has developed quite well. There are a lot of younger players playing now and we’re building that now.

“If you look down the track in two to three years, a lot of us younger players would’ve played a bit of NRL and that will help us moving forward.”

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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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