Prop forward Oliver Clark will become Wests Tigers Player #224 after being named by coach Michael Maguire to make his first grade debut in Friday’s Round 9 clash against his old club the Penrith Panthers.
Clark has been named on the bench for his NRL debut after impressing in his first full season with Wests Tigers, having joined the club midway through the season last year after an immediate switch from the Panthers.
A Quakers Hill junior, Clark is a powerful prop who has featured in numerous junior representative sides for NSW already in his short career, and will add plenty to the Wests Tigers engine room this week.
Looking at the performance against the Roosters last Saturday, he will need to.
The so called engine room is where the side’s problems start and finish this season.
Robbie Farah has been outstanding of course, as has Ryan Matterson and, in the past two weeks, former Queensland State of origin backrower Chris McQueen.
Thomas Mikaele and Luke Garner have also been excellent, but the fact is there is a real skill deficit among the forwards.
There has to be massive improvement in that area if the Wests Tigers are to have any chance of making the finals this season.
After a disappointing 30-point defeat (42-12) to the Sydney Roosters in Round 8, Wests Tigers have also been boosted by the inclusion of Benji Marshall at five-eighth after the playmaker was a late omission last week.
Marshall has not featured since picking up a hamstring injury in Round 3, but is expected to play this week alongside Luke Brooks in the halves in what will be his 293rd first-grade appearance.
Jacob Liddle retains his place on the bench after a strong performance against the Roosters.
Wests Tigers NRL squad will travel to Brisbane on Wednesday ahead of Friday’s Magic Round clash against the Panthers, with the club’s Canterbury Cup and Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership side on the bye.
The club’s Jersey Flegg side will face South Sydney at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday, May 11.
WESTS TIGERS v PENRITH PANTHERS 6PM Friday, May 10 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane:
1. Moses Mbye (captain)
2. Mahe Fonua
3. Robert Jennings
4. Esan Marsters
5. Corey Thompson
6. Benji Marshall
7. Luke Brooks
8. Ben Matulino
9. Robbie Farah
10. Alex Twal
11. Ryan Matterson
12. Chris McQueen
13. Matt Eisenhuth
14. Jacob Liddle
15. Thomas Mikaele
16. Oliver Clark
17. Luke Garner
18. Paul Momirovski
19. Elijah Taylor
20. Michael Chee Kam
21. Russell Packer