Hoffman readies for Panthers handful
Titans centre Josh Hoffman was well aware of Bryce Cartwright's ability to offload the football; what he didn't know was that the man he will be marking on Sunday does it on an even more regular basis.
Hoffman delivered arguably his finest defensive performance in the centres in shutting down Roosters' Test representative Blake Ferguson on Monday night but the assignment at Penrith on Sunday shapes as being just as challenging.
Cartwright has terrorised left-edge defences to the point this season that he is being seriously discussed as a possible Origin debutant for New South Wales, his 19 offloads and clever kicking game for such a big man making him awfully difficult to contain.
But the man on his outside, Peta Hiku, is just as dangerous, scoring five tries and coming up with 20 offloads having appeared in all 10 games for the Panthers this season.
Ferguson failed to break a single tackle and had just the one offload against the Titans on Monday night but the news of Hiku's offloading ability quickly brought Hoffman back down to earth.
"I didn't know that. I'll have to take notice of that and lock that ball up on Peta because he's a strong ball-runner and he can get an offload away," Hoffman said.
"A lot of traffic will be coming down our edge so we'll have to be at our best defensively."
The Panthers' right edge of Hiku, Cartwright and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak have scored more than a third of Penrith's total tries this season and will be keen to take advantage of a new Titans combination with Nene Macdonald coming onto the wing for the injured David Mead.
Hoffman's lone missed tackle against the Roosters took his season tally to 18 and he admitted that with the move to the centres it has been the primary focus of his game in 2016.
He paid tribute to the work of Mead in helping to keep Ferguson quiet on Monday night and said that he and Macdonald will have to foster a new 'bromance' to shut down the dangerous Panthers attack.
"It's something that I had to address in my own game," Hoffman said of his defence that has been exposed at times this season.
"A few weeks ago I wouldn't have said I was the strongest centre out on the paddock on Monday night but I knew it was something I had to address and I knew coming up against Blake that I had a big job to do.
"When I find myself blowing as the game goes on I stop talking and when I've got boys like Tyrone [Roberts] and David Mead talking to me inside and out it really helps me a lot.
"'Meady' played a big part on Monday night in helping my defence so it was very pleasing having him out there.
"He's a bit of a shy guy that Nene. I did room with him one away game so hopefully we can get a bit of a bromance going there.
"As a left edge we have to be on our game and stay connected because [Cartwright] can really do some damage to some teams with the offloads he has.
"He's very creative and got a smart footy brain."