Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor has all but assured Jamal Idris a spot in their NRL season-opener following the betting scandal involving centre Tim Simona.
Simona was on Friday facing the possibility of his contract being torn up after being alleged to have breached rules relating to gambling on NRL matches.
His uncertain future means Idris is likely to make his anticipated return to the game against the Rabbitohs on March 3, almost 700 days after his last game in the NRL with Penrith.
Idris backed up last week’s 40-minute trial cameo with another hour-long shift in a warm-up defeat to North Queensland, where he made a handful of his trademark brutal carries.
But Taylor admitted Idris will have no choice but to punch out the entire 80 minutes when the Tigers face former teammate Robbie Farah in their season-opener on March 3.
“That was the plan – 60 minutes. He played 40 last week and then 60 today. He’ll obviously have to get 80 in a fortnight. That’s the next step for him,” Taylor said.
Asked whether Idris was ready to play the whole match, Taylor said: “He’ll have to be.”
The third-year Tigers coach declined to comment on the Simona bombshell that rocked the league community on Friday, except to say that the club was supporting their centre.
The 25-year-old Simona, who has also been suspended from training and playing with the club until the saga is over, has five days to respond to the allegations.
“It’s in the hands of the Integrity Unit. As a club, our main focus is just the wellbeing of Tim. That’s all there is to say as a club,” Taylor said.
“We’re supporting Tim, and the NRL Integrity Unit will look after it.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green, who had to deal with second-rower Ethan Lowe copping a two-game ban for gambling in 2014, said the governing body had taken a stance against gambling.
“Anyone that does it, I think there’s a fair chance you’re going to get caught. It’s pretty silly. You just can’t do it, so why would you bother,” Green said.
Star Tigers fullback James Tedesco made a successful return to the field after breaking his jaw in round 23 last year, looking dangerous with every touch in a 60-minute effort.
Taylor later said veteran Matt Ballin was a strong chance to make his own anticipated return from a knee reconstruction in round one, but halfback Luke Brooks was in doubt.
Ballin and Brooks missed the trial along with Mitchell Moses, who is suffering bone bruising following his appearance for the World All Stars last week.
“There’s a hamstring with Brooksy and we wouldn’t push him if it wasn’t 100 per cent. It’s not 100 per cent today, but he’s back training. It’s heading in the right direction,” Taylor said.
“Mitch is 100 per cent in that he’s got a really sore foot. It’s really sore, but in the end it’ll be something that we can push. He’ll just have to toughen up and get through it.”