Sunday, 3 June 2012
Rookie Curtis Sironen has the Wests Tigers five-eighth jersey stitched up after proving a vital cog in their 40-0 NRL rout of Canberra, but his challenge is to hold the position, coach Tim Sheens says.
The 18-year-old scored the opening try and pulled his weight in the halves alongside Benji Marshall to notch another solid performance in just his second NRL game.
While he was admittedly brought into the Raiders game as last-minute cover for the injured Blake
Ayshford, Sheens agreed Sironen had done enough to make the No.6 his own.
"I've been trying to hide him as long as I can," Sheens said.
"There's no doubt he's a first grader.
"But (selection) is easy to get - it's harder to hold. So the challenge for Curtis now is to work hard and continue to be five-eighth in this side which isn't easy for a young guy.
"He's going to be mentally under the pump through the rest of the season as we all are.
"If he can handle that, it'll be a real challenge for him but he's certainly showing the signs at the moment."
Sironen's rise is all the more impressive knowing he played just one Toyota Cup match this year after undergoing shoulder surgery in the pre-season.
Sironen, the son of former Balmain, NSW and Australian Test player Paul Sironen, was called on with 30 minutes to go in the victory over North Queensland but played a full 80 against the Raiders.
He was one of many Tigers to enjoy a standout performance at Canberra Stadium as David Furner's men crumbled under the pressure for their worst performance of the season.
It was only the second time in their history the Raiders have been kept scoreless at home.
Sheens stood by earlier comments backing props Aaron Woods and Keith Galloway for State of Origin squad consideration, despite it flaring existing tensions between him and NSW coach Ricky Stuart.
Stuart was in the stands on Saturday to watch the Tigers-Raiders clash, but Sheens insisted he wasn't telling Stuart what to do.
"I just suggested last week there were three really good NSW props on show and I had two of them.
"I'd still stand by that.
"We've been up, we've been down, we've been criticised for being too soft in the forwards earlier in the year by a couple of so-called experts but, at the end of the day, we've muscled up and it's been on the back of the two big fellas."
The Tigers won their sixth straight with the victory over the Raiders, and will head to Melbourne full of confidence to meet the Storm at AAMI Park on Friday.