Benji Marshall could be sidelined for six weeks with a calf injury so coach Ivan Cleary says the new halves combination of Josh Reynolds and Luke Brooks will have time to improve on Sunday's first outing in the loss to Cronulla.
The club lost the playmaker at the captain's run the day before their 24-14 loss to the Sharks, handing Reynolds his first run-on start at his new club in remarkably similar fashion to that in which Marshall, another of their five co-captains, got a chance in round one following a hamstring injury to Reynolds on match eve.
"It's a decent injury," was Cleary's glum assessment after the game.
"We've got a couple of byes coming up (a weekend off for rep round then a round 17 bye) so it was decent timing in that regard.
"He's been carrying a few niggles for a while now but it will be a decent stint, I'm not too sure, maybe six weeks."
Marshall could still miss as few as three games given the club's bye situation but it will be important not to rush the veteran back too early given he has been managing a calf issue from the start of the season.
Neither Reynolds nor Cleary was too happy with the new halves pairing's game management in the second half but hoped for rapid improvement next Sunday against the Raiders at Campbelltown.
"They'll be better for the run," Cleary said.
"[It was their] first go together apart from a few trial games. Our ends of sets could definitely improve but give these guys some more time together it's going to improve. I'm looking forward to seeing how they go together and what they do together will give a big bearing on how we go against Canberra next week."
Reynolds said he felt like he was in the game in the first half but thought his performance drifted in the second.
"It's not an excuse but my role definitely changed [compared to playing as a bench hooker]," he said.
"I've just got to get back to nailing what a half has to do now. I don't think I did that too well in the second half but it will come. I've just got to pick my moments and back myself in being confident. Kick the ball, chase, a couple of little things I usually like to nail in the game."
Cleary also questioned the referees' use of the sin bin for repeated infringements, asking whether it has gone away from the original point of discouraging repeated deliberate goal-line defensive penalties, after his team lost Michael Chee Kam for 10 minutes late in the first half.
The previous penalty and warning came upfield when Alex Twal came back through the ruck with Chee Kam penalised for offside near the Tigers' line in curious circumstances; the officials originally played advantage when Wade Graham took a quick tap trying to score but when the Tigers scrambled to nullify the raid, the officials came back to the original infringement and binned Chee Kam.
Wests Tigers press conference - Round 14
"The sin bin hurt us a bit because we were definitely on top there ... We may have been able to capitalise at the end of that first half," Cleary said.
"Whether it's our game or other games, it's pretty easy to get in the bin at the moment.
"Maybe it's just me but I'm seeing guys put in the bin and not seeing the context of what [for] – deliberate penalties or lots of them.
"Once you've been warned anyone can go at any time for anything. The context has gone out a bit. When we originally started the sin bin thing it was for lots of penalties on your goal line, ones that deliberately tried to take the proverbial, if you like. I've seen a few lately that I don't see quite in that category. I thought today's was like that."
Reynolds questioned why, with both teams given an official warning at different stages, it was only the Tigers who lost a player.
"The grey area is, how long does the warning go for?" Reynolds asked.
"The Sharks' next penalty whenever it is, why didn't they get one in the bin? I asked the ref why did Chee get 10. The penalty before that was Alex Twal who got tangled up in the ruck and didn't really hold him and that was our next one."