NRL 2021: The determined Wests Tigers rookies giving the embattled club hope for the future

Matt Logue NCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

The Wests Tigers’ finals drought will extend to a ninth season, but in rising half Jock Madden and a cast of emerging stars the embattled club has hope for the future.

Madden played his first starting NRL game against Penrith last weekend, producing a solid display at five-eighth.

The 21-year-old Scone Thoroughbreds junior and former Australian schoolboy is one of several youngsters, including hooker Jake Simpkin and back-rower Shaun Blore, who are determined to see the Tigers improve and climb up the competition ladder.

“We are just building us young players into NRL players, and I think everyone has developed quite well,” Madden said ahead of Sunday’s final round clash against Canterbury.

“If you look down the track in two or three years and a lot of us younger players have played a lot of NRL, it is definitely going to help us in the long run with that experience and the drive that we have to get to where we want to.”

Madden also has high hopes for himself as an NRL player.

He aspires to become a regular and consistent contributor on the first-grade stage.

“I just want another strong pre-season this year and hopefully I can nail down a spot in the NRL team,” he said.

“Half (Jackson) Hastings is coming next year, so it is only going to strengthen our side and I’ll be pushing for that.”

Madden’s rise to the NRL ranks is even more impressive given the difficult time he has experienced in recent months with no NSW Cup or reserve grade competition due to Covid.

The absence of the second-tier competitions has left a cast of budding NRL players in limbo with no football.

Thankfully, involvement in the Tigers’ NRL squad inside the Queensland bubble has given Madden valuable confidence and experience.

“But it has been difficult,” he said.

“I think I’ve only played 15 or 16 games in the last two years, so it has been very challenging.

“But I think you just have to go to training each day with the right mindset to want to improve and better yourself.

“You might look at it a different way where you might do more video, and I think that has helped me to where I’m at now.”

Tigers hooker Jacob Liddle is only 24, but he is one of the club’s more senior players with 56 NRL games under his belt.

Liddle insists the joint venture club is on the path to success with so many keen young players like Madden.

“Finals footy is our next goal for the club and it is up to the younger boys and the whole squad to push that and drive the culture,” Liddle said.

“Then it is up to the older boys like Brooksy and I to keep driving those standards and get the club where it needs to be.”

Originally published as NRL 2021: The determined Wests Tigers rookies giving the embattled club hope for the future

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