Wests Tigers head coach Ivan Cleary – who may or may not be at the club next year – has named his 21 player squad to take on the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium this Sunday, August 12.
Life member Benji Marshall has been named to start despite suffering a calf injury in last week’s 25-16 win over the Newcastle Knights.
Malakai Watene-Zelezniak returns to the side in place of Corey Thompson who will undergo surgery on an ankle injury this week.
Robbie Rochow returns to the bench with Mahe Fonua in the reserves for the first time since suffering a broken arm against the Raiders in Round 15.
Moses Mbye will play his 100th NRL game, with the fullback taking to the field 94 times for the Bulldogs and now six for Wests Tigers.
Russell Packer will captain the side against the Raiders.
Unfortunately naming the team has been overshadowed by news that Penrith have offered Cleary the chance to coach his son Nathan.
Until very recently the question was whether Nathan would decide to join his father at Wests Tigers.
But in a brilliant move no doubt orchestrated by Penrith’s wily general manager Phil Gould, the Clearys have been offered a clear path to being in the same club.
That club can only be the Panthers now, if it happens at all.
The Wests Tigers are saying they won’t release Ivan but everyone knows it’s bad business to keep an employee who’s unhappy and would rather be somewhere else.
Time will tell, but in the meantime the Wests Tigers will keep their slim finals hopes alive if they can return from the national capital with two premiership points in the bag.
The Clearys distraction won’t have helped, but it’s definitely a game that’s there for the taking.
Wests Tigers NRL Team
1. Moses Mbye
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Esan Marsters
4. Kevin Naiqama
5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
6. Benji Marshall
7. Luke Brooks
8. Russell Packer (Captain)
9. Robbie Farah
10. Ben Matulino
11. Michael Chee Kam
12. Luke Garner
13. Elijah Taylor
14. Alex Twal
15. Sauaso Sue
16. Robbie Rochow
17. Matt Eisenhuth
18. Jacob Liddle
19. Chris McQueen
20. Tyson Gamble
21. Mahe Fonua