Tigers facing hooker shortage

Awash with hookers at the start of the NRL season, Wests Tigers could face a shortage in the key position in 2017.

With club great Robbie Farah seemingly on his way out the door at Concord after being dropped to reserve grade, the dual venture’s No.9 stocks are suddenly looking shaky for the future.

Coach Jason Taylor started the year with a headache on his hands with Farah, Dene Halatau, Matt Ballin, Manaia Cherrington and Jacob Liddle all on his books but his options for next year appear are diminishing.

Current starting hooker Halatau earlier in the week announced he’ll retire at the end of the year.

Ballin, 32, is far from a certainty to ever play again after suffering his second season-ending knee injury in as many years.

Considered a man for the future, Cherrington, who has made 16 appearances since debuting midway through last year, is off-contract and has been linked with a move to Penrith.

That leaves just the highly-rated Liddle, a former Australian schoolboys representative.

Taylor was hoping to fast-track the 19-year-old’s development and handed him his NRL debut a fortnight ago in the loss to Canterbury.

However the club hit a speed bump in that plan when they ran into second-tier salary cap pressure and it’s been ruled they can’t field him for the rest of the season.

“Jacob’s unable to play so that’s not an option for us,” Taylor said.

“We’ll work out how we’re going to replace Robbie and that’s not an easy thing to do.”

However Taylor did not appear too worried about a looming hooker shortage, indicating a preference for a utility player like Halatau to work alongside gun halves Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses.

“What we’ve seen is the team has run more smoothly with a dummy-half who may not be a specialist dummy-half but whose role is to just get the ball to where it needs to go to.”

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!