5 days ago
Tim Moltzen has made an impressive start to his NRL career, but after two games Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens says it's time for the promising teenager to sink the boot in against the Bulldogs.
Sheens claims the rookie five-eighth, set the daunting task of replacing Benji Marshall while the Tigers star recovers from a knee injury, owns the biggest kick at the club.
And the coach has called on the 19-year-old, who has scored two tries in his first two games, to show off his booming boot against the Dogs at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
"He hasn't kicked the ball yet in two games," Sheens said.
"He's playing No.6 and he can kick further than anyone at the club, so there's a lot to work for him to do, we're not getting carried away just yet.
"Timmy had a good couple of moments in the game (against North Queensland) last week, but off the ball he's still not dominating the game as a pivot.
"He can tackle and he can run and he's supporting well ... so he's doing the little things without dominating the game as a No.6."
Halfback John Morris, who will play his 150th first grade game on Sunday, said Moltzen was mature enough not to try and overplay his hand despite coming in to the side for the mercurial Marshall.
"It must be great for his confidence for his first two games to perform the way he has, but he's got a real level head so I don't think he'll be getting carried away with it," said Morris.
"He knows every week in the NRL is a tough one, but there's no reason why he can't continue.
"He's got all the team's confidence. He's starting to tell the boys where to go, starting to call for the ball when he wants it, he scored a good try last the weekend by over-calling the play. So he's dominant enough to do that, which is great at his age."
Despite back-to-back victories - including a dominant win over the Cowboys in Townsville last Saturday - the Tigers have been keen to keep a lid on their early season form.
Skipper Brett Hodgson is expected to play against the Bulldogs Sunday despite suffering concussion last weekend with hooker Robbie Farah, who has been battling a virus this week, also coming through his final training session on Saturday.
The Dogs, who came from behind to beat South Sydney last week after blowing a big first-half lead against Parramatta in round one, welcome back backrow superstar Sonny Bill Williams from a knee injury but will be without Reni Maitua after the Test forward was dumped for another alcohol-related indiscretion this week.
"It's a bit of a loss," fullback Luke Patten said of Maitua's axing.
"But there's always somebody ready to step up as well and I think we've shown that this year, that some of the guys that most people wouldn't know have stepped up for us and I think that will continue so it's just up to Reni how to work his way back into the team.
"As far as the team goes, it's still early in the season.
"Obviously it takes a little while to get into the swing of things, but we are hoping this week that we can put it together.
"The Tigers are obviously going well, they've won their first two games and you know the last few years they've probably had the wood on us a little bit, so we know it's going to be a tough game."