Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor admits he’s disappointed he won’t be able to play future No.9 Jacob Liddle more this NRL season.
Injuries to Matt Ballin and Manaia Cherrington, as well as NSW Origin duties for bench rake Robbie Farah, meant the club was forced to apply for a cap exemption to field a second hooker in Saturday’s loss to Canterbury.
But if first impressions count for anything, then Taylor was more than delighted to have handed an NRL debut to 20-year-old Liddle, who celebrated his first game with a try in a dynamic cameo off the bench.
“I thought he was great,” Taylor said.
“Especially against a team with those big guys, his defence was superb and his try was great. He just did a really solid job and he didn’t look out of place for a second, which is really exciting for us.”
He also tallied 17 tackles, one line break and one tackle bust, however Taylor was particularly rapt with Liddle’s defence against arguably the biggest pack in the league.
“And it was on the back of the fact that he played in our Intrust Super Cup team against the Warriors last week and he handled that really well,” Taylor said.
“That was a good trial for us. He played plenty in that competition this year but we knew playing in that game against that team over there was going to be a really good test for him last week.
“From a defensive perspective he handled that well so we were confident he would handle tonight, and he did.”
An Australian Schoolboys representative, Liddle is regarded as the club’s long-term No.9 after re-signing with the club until the end of the 2018 season just last month.
However, with Cherrington and Farah set to be available for selection next week, Taylor said it is unlikely the Wyong Roos junior would appear in the NRL again this season.
“For salary cap reasons he probably won’t play anymore part, which is disappointing,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s anything we can do. We can’t get him in. That’s how it works.”
Both Ballin and Farah are signed until the end of the 2017 season, while Cherrington is off-contract at the end of the year and has been linked with a move to Penrith in the summer.