Aaron Woods out of Bulldogs clash
In-form Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods has been ruled of Friday night's clash with the Bulldogs, succumbing to a knee strain suffered in last week's defeat to South Sydney.
"[Woods] strained his knee in last Sunday's game. Actually, last Sunday's game was really tough. We had a number of guys that were knocked around. Woodsy won't make the game tomorrow night," coach Jason Taylor said on Thursday.
"It's not major and we're pretty confident that he'll play next round. But it was a really big risk of him being out for probably 5-6 weeks if he aggravated it again tomorrow night."
Second-year pro Kyle Lovett will come into the 17, but coach Jason Taylor hinted that a few more players could pull out.
"We've got Dene Halatau as well, who's done a bit of a fitness test this morning. We want him to train and we'll see how he is tomorrow. He's still in doubt and Kevin Naiqama's the other one," he said. UPDATE: Halatau has also been ruled out.
"So we're a bit bashed up from last Sunday. It was tough, and backing up in five days to play last year's runner's up after playing last year's premiers, it's a great challenge for us. It's going to be tough.
"Kev injured his hand early in the game last week and he got through the game with it so we're confident he'll play. But again, we want to make sure he's 100 per cent tomorrow."
The loss of Woods, who has been averaging a competition-high 233 metres over the first three rounds, leaves a massive hole in a Tigers frontline that faces the biggest engine room in the NRL.
"The size of the forward pack in the opposition is a big factor in this game. Everybody who plays against them tries to pick their biggest team, and to have our number one front rower out is a blow. But that's life, we get on with it," Taylor said.
"We've got some positional changes that we'll decide on 100 per cent tomorrow. But we've got Kyle Lovett coming into the team and we'll just make some adjustments around that. We just want to train today and then finalize that, because we're still a little unsure about Dene Halatau."
Taylor said five-eighth Mitch Moses would take over the goalkicking duties after regular marksman Pat Richards took the early guilty plea on a dangerous contact charge earlier this week, missing one match.
In his place will be 21-year-old rookie debutant Delouise Hoeter.
"Delouise came through Keebra Park to Wests Tigers. He's played in the under-20s over the last couple of seasons. Showed a great pre-season, trained really well, and he went to the Nines with us. He's earned his opportunity," Taylor said.