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Halatau confident youngsters will rise

Having watched last weekend’s thrilling win over the Warriors from the sidelines, Wests Tigers vice-captain Dene Halatau is confident the Club’s youngsters will again rise to the challenge this Monday night against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.

The 33-year-old, who returns from suspension this week to fill the No. 9 jersey vacated by the injured Robbie Farah and Matt Ballin, said he continued to be impressed by the young talent at the Club, and the way they handled themselves in a tough situation last week.

“Our spine has been working really well together and the middle boys have been doing what is required in our structure, so it’s coming along pretty well early on in the year," he said.

“It really is a young squad. You look across and there’s only a few boys over 30 and then there’s a big gap in between down to so many of these young guys. And being a young squad, us senior guys have to be resilient show some leadership up top to lead the way.

“Having said that, I think that because those guys have played footy at such a young age, they’ve had a few years in the game now and have gained that seniority already and they’re prepared to lead in their own way despite their age. Guys like Sauaso Sue and James Tedesco — who are in the leadership group this year — and even Woodsy [Aaron Woods] as captain… they’re all still so young but great leaders in their own way.

“I think one of the positive things to come out of some tough times here in the last little while is that the young guys get a chance to learn the hard way,” he said.

“And I think they’re better for it at the end of the day.

“Last season and the season before we didn’t finish where we wanted to on the table, and the games that we did lose in that time, I think that instilled some knowledge and experience in the boys that will only help them in the games ahead.”

Having watched Manaia Cherrington, Jack Littlejohn and Kyle Lovett combine at hooker last week to cover for the injury and suspension problems in the position, Halatau said he was thoroughly impressed with the young Kiwi international Cherrington — emphasising his excitement to work alongside the 21-year-old again come Monday night.

“Manaia Cherrington is a really strong future prospect for this Club at No. 9,” he said.

“He’s going to be taking the reigns [this week] when I come off and helping me out.

“So while there is some pressure to fill in for Robbie and Matt [Ballin], I’ll do what I can and try to work well with Manaia and develop a good combination in that time.”

Wests Tigers will look to start the season with consecutive victories when they take on the Sea Eagles on Monday night ar Leichhardt Oval in the final game of Round 2.

Be there for our first game of the year at Leichhardt Oval when we take on the Sea Eagles! Click here to get your tickets!

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