No Reynolds, Tigers' NRL punt on Gamble

Scott Bailey
A Josh Reynolds (pic) injury means rookie Tyson Gamble will come into the Wests Tigers' NRL halves

The Wests Tigers will take a punt on rookie half Tyson Gamble, with Josh Reynolds' stop-start NRL season taking another hit ahead of Sunday's crunch clash with Canberra.

Reynolds is only expected to miss one week due to a hamstring injury, but his absence couldn't come at a worse time given regular five-eighth Benji Marshall is already out with a calf issue.

Canterbury fullback Moses Mbye is also still one week away from joining the Tigers, while Gamble has become the preferred option for coach Ivan Cleary ahead of Tuimoala Lolohea, who had played last year in the No.6 jersey.

Gamble, set to turn 22 this week, partnered Marshall at times last year at Redcliffe in the Queensland Cup, and was recommended to the club over the summer by the returning Tiger.

His first match with Luke Brooks in the halves will be a crucial one for the Tigers, with Sunday's clash shaping as a virtual four-point game for both sides.

Canberra have flogged the merged club in their past three clashes by an aggregate score of 158-22, but this is a different Tigers outfit who enter the round just outside the eight but equal on wins with Brisbane.

Realistically, they and the Raiders are two of just three teams with any real hope of climbing into the finals.

"Its a fairly pivotal game for both teams," Cleary said.

"We started this season with no expectations really. We were trying to build a team and be competitive. We've managed to do that.

"We've put ourselves in a position where we can make something happen towards the end of the year."

Gamble's elevation and Mbye's impending arrival comes as rumours swirl that Robbie Farah might return to the club from South Sydney to play hooker for the remainder of the year.

The Tigers have utility Elijah Taylor starting in the role and Matt McIlwrick coming off the bench, with youngster Jacob Liddle back in reserve grade.

Cleary on Saturday refused to enter into the Farah speculation, but indicated he wasn't settled on his No.9 for the rest of the year, while Liddle continued to spend time developing in lower grades after early-season shoulder concerns.

"Jacob is someone we have a lot of time for and has a huge future in this club," Cleary said.

"He's gone back to play ISP (reserve grade) to get a bit of confidence in his game.

"We have a huge amount of faith in Jacob and see him as the long-term hooker here."

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Canberra have scored 46 points or more in their past three games against the Tigers

* Canberra get the most penalties per game (9.6), while the Tigers (7.4) get the second least

* The Tigers are chasing their 200th win in their 460th NRL match