Luckless Wests Tigers utility Dene Halatau is ready to finally begin his NRL season and play a role in his club’s finals charge.
Halatau joined the Tigers as a key off season signing but broke his ankle in a pre-season clash against Penrith and didn’t make his season debut until the round 14 match against South Sydney, when he lasted just minutes before concussion ended his night.
The 2005 premiership winner returned to the joint venture this season after four years with Canterbury, and ahead of Sunday’s match with the Panthers at Leichhardt Oval he could be a key player in the Tigers finals push.
“It’s been a strange year for me,” he said.
“I’ve come back after four or five months and got KO’d with second tackle I was trying to make so I can’t remember much after that.
“But I’m keen to get on the field and play as many minutes as I can and hopefully I can show something and keep a spot in the team and see how much footy I can play for the rest of the year.
“I’ve had a few injuries before and I’ve come back from them. I know what it’s like to get back and I’ll just keep working hard and hopefully that time in first grade comes.”
With captain Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods missing due to NSW State of Origin commitment against a Panthers outfit unaffected by interstate commitments, Halatau is preparing to plug a number of holes for the Tigers.
“I’m not too sure where I’ll be playing yet. I’ve been told to be ready to play anywhere,” he said.
“Joel Luani is starting at nine and Blake Austin has played a bit of hooker so there might be some reshuffling at one stage or another. If I’m playing hooker I’ll be ready to go there.
“Joel has worked hard on his minutes but I don’t know whether he’s got a full 80 in him especially against a team near the top of the table. So I might need to give him some relief at some time.”