Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire expects a "settled" Brent Naden to hit the ground running when he confronts his former club at Leichhardt Oval on Friday night.
Naden’s switch of clubs happened so quickly that he was initially set to be selected in the Canterbury side for the round 11 clash but was named in the Tigers squad when the teams were announced at 4pm Tuesday.
"I met Brent some time ago through some of the Indigenous players at our club and I have kept an eye on his progress," said Maguire, who confirmed on Wednesday that the 26-year-old would play against the Bulldogs.
"He became available and we’ve been looking for someone with strike out wide. I watched his highlights from his days at Penrith and he’s a very talented centre.
"He's really settled now – I met his wife and baby the other day – and he wants to focus on his footy."
The new-look Tigers backline will also feature Jock Madden at five-eighth, taking over from Luke Brooks who will miss at least a fortnight with a hamstring injury.
Maguire expects very little disruption to his spine with Madden having played six games already this season and having a good understanding of how the Tigers want to attack.
"Jock has a really good connection with the players and he’ll fit straight in to what we need," Maguire said.
"The more you play first grade the better you become. It's about understanding the role and he’ll come in and play his part. The combinations are building with Jacko [Hastings] and Starford To’a has played a few games there at fullback now."
Bye-round thinking: How should you attack it?
It is understood that Naden began making moves about the switch before Barrett’s coaching tenure came to an end after last Friday night’s 16-6 loss to Newcastle, but his resignation accelerated it.
With Barrett standing down ahead of an emergency board meeting on Monday and up to a third of the squad affected by the flu, Canterbury players were given leave from training until Wednesday.
Former Wests Tigers mentor Mick Potter has taken over as interim coach at the Bulldogs so he also faces his old club on Friday night in another plot twist.
A blow for Potter in his first game at the club when one of the victims of the flu outbreak, winger Josh Addo-Carr, was ruled out of Friday's game.
Naden, who was in Penrith's 2020 grand final team and was 18th man in last year's premiership decider, had a close relationship with Barrett from his time on the Panthers coaching staff and joined Canterbury this season to play under him.
He is good mates with Tigers fullback Daine Laurie after playing alongside him at Penrith, as well as prop James Tamou and injured second-rower Shawn Blore.
"I know that him and Daine have a strong connection so I can’t wait to see him at training," said Tigers second-rower Kelma Tuilagi.
The signing of Naden bolsters the Tigers depth in the outside backs after they were last weekend forced to partner rookies Junior Tupou and Junior Pauga on the right edge in the absence of Asu Kepaoa, Oliver Gildart and David Nofoaluma.