Last year’s battle for Wests Tigers hooker should have been between Robbie Farah, Matt Ballin and boom rookie Manaia Cherrington.
Off-field it was the bust up between Farah and coach Jason Taylor that got the headlines while Matt Ballin struggled through a year dominated by injury, making only two appearances for the club.
Both Farah and Cherrington have found new clubs with former Raider, Rooster and Shark Matt McIlwrick purchased for 2017.
Having turned 33 on Thursday, Ballin may be in his last season. Despite his age the 219 NRL game veteran has plenty to offer if he can get on the field.
Ballin told Wests Tigers website how he’s managed over the last twelve months to deal with the frustration.
“The biggest thing I probably learned out of last year was patience in that injuries take time to heal, don’t rush things and in the long run that will mean I’ll be better off”, Ballin said.
McIlwrick at 25 hasn’t been able to hold down a regular NRL spot and will hope that his move to Wests Tigers will be fourth time lucky.
Wests Tigers fans think McIlwrick will be a good backup for Ballin, but will end up playing in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership this year.
Another option is Jacob Liddle who impressed in a few matches he played late 2016. At 20, he seems to be the future long term hooker at the club.