Relative unknown Jacob Liddle is set to be the major beneficiary of Wests Tigers’ hooking crisis, with the former Australian Schoolboy in the selection frame for the NRL club’s season opener.
Liddle, 19, was one of the stars of the national youth competition last year and could make his NRL debut in the Tigers’ round-one clash against the Warriors due to injuries to Robbie Farah and Matt Ballin.
Farah and Ballin are set to miss the first six weeks of the NRL due to knee injuries.
Tigers coach Jason Taylor has indicated he wants to use two hookers in 2016, despite the reduction in the number of interchanges.
As a result, Liddle is on the verge of his first NRL game as back-up to Manaia Cherrington.
Ballin predicted a big future for Liddle.
“We have a lot of depth at hooker, we have Manaia Cherrington there and Jacob Liddle who is a young guy with a lot of potential, that is what the coach wanted and that is a good sign for the club,” Ballin told AAP on Friday.
“He is a really smart young player and he has a very mature head on his shoulders under pressure.
“At training he has really come up with the goods. I don’t want to talk him up too much and put pressure on him but as a young player he has just come out of 20s he has a lot of potential he is a good young kid who thinks about his footy and works really hard.”
Ballin said Cherrington would have to adapt his game with himself and Farah sidelined.
“As the game changes with the interchange reducing he will have to stay out there for a bit longer maybe and move to a different position,” Ballin said.
“Everyone has to adapt. It will be interesting to see in the first few rounds which teams adapt well, we have trained extremely well over the pre-season. We have increased our aerobic fitness and the guys who need to play longer minutes will be capable of that.”