No back-up needed for Cherrington at Tigers
Despite the huge blow of losing seasoned hooker Robbie Farah for the first month of the season, senior Wests Tigers players say back-up rake Manaia Cherrington will have no trouble pumping out 80-minute games until one of the senior dummy-halves returns.
New recruit Matt Ballin is also set to sit out at least the start of the year as he continues to recover from a knee injury that ended his 2015 season early, but new captain Aaron Woods and back-rower Chris Lawrence had no doubt the 21-year-old was ready for the rigours of full time NRL.
"Manaia Cherrington is going to be playing. He will be right for 80 minutes, he is one of the fittest at the club," Woods said.
"He played a few games last year and he has been in the system for the last few years so he knows what we are about and he won't let the boys down. He's been ripping in all pre-season. He'll be ready to go."
Woods said while it was a significant disruption losing Farah to injury in the trials, the side had since been training as if Cherrington was going to play 80 minutes – a move made more necessary in Round 1 by the absence through suspension of utility forward Dene Halatau.
"I would be lying to you if I said it wasn't a disruption. You train all of the pre-season and then to lose Robbie in your last trial is tough, but there is nothing we can do about it now," Woods said.
"But you can't have your best players every week – that's part of sport. It has been a disruption but the boys, to their credit, we've got back to training and where we have had to change a few things we have."
Lawrence said after Cherrington's 11 games last he was ready to step up to a starting hooker role.
"He showed he's going to be a quality player. I think he'll be fine. Given the opportunity he's really going to excel," Lawrence said.
"I know he's played 80 minutes in the past in lower grades and he's one of the fittest blokes here so whether he plays 80 or not, I'm not quite sure."
Lawrence added that while up-and-coming hooker Jacob Liddle had been training well after featuring in the Auckland Nines and trials, he may not start the year in first grade.
"He's definitely been training well in the off season and killed the under-20s last year and improved with each session and each week this year. I'm not sure whether they'll throw him in Round 1 but it won't be too long before you see him in first grade," Lawrence said.