Young rake Manaia Cherrington will be thrust into an 80 minute cauldron under the NRL’s new interchange rules in a bid to alleviate Wests Tigers’ hooking woes, captain Aaron Woods has revealed.
Coach Jason Taylor had originally planned to attack the slimmed down interchange rules with a two-pronged approach at hooker.
But knee injuries to Robbie Farah and Matt Ballin have sunk those plans.
A round-one suspension to utility Dene Halatau has set up another roadblock for Taylor.
To lean on 21-year-old Cherrington, who has played just 15 NRL games to alleviate the Tigers’ No.9 crisis in their opening-round encounter against the Warriors at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday.
“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 at the Tigers’ Concord base on Tuesday.
“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.”
Halfback Luke Brooks is also sidelined for the match with the Warriors due to suspension.
Jack Littlejohn is set to take his place in the Tigers’ halves alongside Mitchell Moses against the Auckland-based outfit who have been significantly bolstered by the offseason acquisition of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke.
“I would be lying to you if I said those injuries and suspensions weren’t a disruption,” Woods said.
“You train all of the pre-season and then to lose Robbie in your last trial is tough “It has been a disruption but the boys to their credit have got back to training and where we have had to change a few things we have.”
Taylor is under pressure to produce results early in the season to save his tenure at the Tigers. But Woods wasn’t buying into any speculation.
“We don’t worry about that at all. We just want to let our results speak for themselves. There was a lot of drama before Christmas. But after Christmas that has settled down and that is a good thing,” Wood said.
“We have just come in here and ripped in and just worried about our football.”