Simpkin backed to handle Tigers pressure

·2-min read

Michael Maguire denies he's throwing teenage debutant Jake Simpkin into the deep end with the Wests Tigers in crisis management mode as they attempt to rebound from Sunday's dismal defeat.

The Tigers coach was stunned when his team gave up a 28-6 halftime lead - earning boos from their own fans - in their loss to North Queensland at Leichhardt Oval and he has shuffled the pack looking for an instant response.

Maguire dropped Jacob Liddle in place of 19-year-old hooker Simpkin, who will make his NRL debut against high-flying South Sydney on Saturday.

He is confident the scars of last week's loss will be of no consequence for Simpkin, who has been in hot form in reserve grade.

"At the end of the day he didn't experience that one so he can come in with a real open mind and just play," Maguire said on Friday.

"That's the thing that he's been doing in the last five weeks in reserve grade and performing really well and getting the team around the park and that's all I'm asking of him.

"He reminds me a bit of Steve Walters actually, back in the '90s.

"He'll develop his own style and how he goes about it. He's a tough kid."

Queensland-born teenager Simpkin has scored six tries in five games for the Western Suburbs side this year, as well as a try assist and an average of 42 tackles per game.

The change follows a promise Maguire made on Sunday that he would look at players from the reserve grade side to get a message through to the underperforming NRL team.

"The boys have been performing really well through the ranks and we've got a lot of exciting young players coming through so that's a big one for us," he said.

Sunday's loss Wests Tigers' fourth for the season but their win-loss record could get even uglier as they face he third-placed Rabbitohs at Stadium Australia on Saturday.

Souths have lost just one game this season to Melbourne in round one.

It will also be the first time ex-Tigers skipper Benji Marshall faces his former club since parting awkwardly without the offer of a contract extension last season.

However, after an emotional week of self reflection the Tigers are desperate to put a good performance in, no matter who the opposition is.

"The players have definitely owned it and they own that by how we go about our game," Maguire said.

"That's how we're judged, as we know.

"(We need to) play our style of footy, the way we know we can.

"I'm going to let our actions do the talking."