The Wests Tigers recorded an impressive 52-18 victory over the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in the last trial match of the 2021 pre-season.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt Oval, the Wests Tigers put on an attacking clinic scoring 9 tries and while the Sea Eagles didn’t play a full-strength squad, it’s very hard not to be excited about the season ahead from what was shown by the team.
With that said, here are the main takeaways from the Manly game that will impact the team going into round 1 against the Raiders.
Daine Laurie has to start at Fullback in round 1
Going into the weekend, I was thinking that Moses Mbye would start the year at Fullback purely because the club seems to want to give the former skipper every opportunity to cement a starting spot in the 17. However, after the trial game, I think it’s safe to say that Daine has picked himself for the round 1 team.
In around 60 minutes of play, Laurie recorded a monster performance registering 2 tries, 124 meters from 11 runs, 6 tackle breaks, 3 line breaks, 1-line break assist, and 1 try-assist.
The thing that stood out most about Laurie’s game however was his instincts from Fullback. For the first time since losing James Tedesco, the club has signed a pure fullback and not someone who is transitioning from another position.
The former Penrith player’s support play was particularly impressive and led to multiple tires and line-breaks that were just amazing to watch live and in person.
It’s exciting to think that Daine Laurie is only 21 and has much more potential to grow in a Wests Tigers jersey.
Jock Madden will start in round 1 but Adam Doueihi is primed for a big year
I thought that Jock Madden had a bounce-back game against the Sea Eagles. While not a flashy performance, Madden did a great job of playing off the back of Brooks with his kicking game while also setting up his outside men in the first half.
It is a really smart decision by the club to extend Madden for another season as it gives the young playmaker the chance to learn as an under-study this season while also being able to play consistent footy in reserve grade or first-grade if injuries hit.
While Jock Madden was solid in the first half, Adam Doueihi was the star of the second half and is primed for a big season.
With the responsibility of Fullback being lifted from his shoulders, Doueihi looked more comfortable and confident in the 6 jersey.
The Lebanese international showed that he has the potential to be an all-around playmaker as his kicking, running, and passing game all lead to try-scoring situations.
The Middle forwards looked much more effective compared to last year
One thing that struck me was that the middle-forward stock looked much more impressive than last season against Manly.
Both Ofahengaue and Tamou started the game off well and players like Stefano Utoikamanu came from the bench and provided an immediate impact.
Hopefully, this is a sign that the Tiger’s middles can improve on the performances of last year with the addition of some much-needed depth.
Although not a middle forward, if the trial game is any indication, Luciano Leilua is in for a big season in 2021.
The edge back-rower made Curtis Sironen look like a rookie and created a chance in attack every time he ran the ball.
Jacob Liddle to start the season at 9
I was a Jake Simpkin believer going into the weekend but Jacob Liddle had such a strong performance against Manly that it’s hard to argue that he won’t start in the 9 jersey against the Raiders.
Liddle combined extremely well with the starting middle forwards while also running the ball effectively.
Although Liddle will start at 9, I’m still tipping Jake Simpkin to be in the 17 come round 1 as a utility off the bench.