They’ve lost one of the game’s most explosive front-rowers, but Wests Tigers captain-in-waiting Aaron Woods reckons management doesn’t need to look far to find the next one.
Void of any big-name signings over the summer, coach Jason Taylor has a gaping hole in his forward pack following the shock exit of Martin Taupau to Manly.
But Woods already knows who will be the man to feature on highlight reels with the same ferocious power as the Kiwi international next season.
“Sauaso Sue’s been one of our most consistent footballers of the past couple of years, so yeah, it’s a big year for him to step up,” Woods told AAP.
Woods said the previously softly-spoken Sue, who has played 58 games since making his debut in 2013, hasn’t quite been as shy in the opening weeks of the pre-season and appears the man most likely to fill Taupau’s role.
The 23-year-old has followed a similar path to his corn-rowed predecessor, having started his NRL career as a back-rower but has since blossomed into a modern-day prop with a low centre of gravity.
“He just senses that it’s time for him to step up. He’s really coming out of his shell,” Woods said.
“He was a back-rower, but he’s getting massive. The way that he’s been training and the attitude he’s brought to the pre-season … he’s ready for it.”
Taupau isn’t the only big man to have left the club at the end of last season, with the experienced Keith Galloway moving to England and talented youngster Matt Lodge sacked for off-field troubles.
The joint-venture club has signed a number of fringe forwards in Joel Edwards, Rod Griffin and Billy McConnachie, and have a handful of promising kids in Dallas Graham and Junior Tatola.
However Woods, who is most likely to be handed the captaincy that was dramatically given up by Robbie Farah at start of pre-season, has warned against pitting them in the NRL too early.
“We have got some good boys there, but you don’t want to throw them in the thick of things, especially if things go bad,” he said.
“That’s where myself, Ava (Seumanufagai) and Sue, we have to really step up early on in the start of the year.”