Sheens undecided on Benji's replacement - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sheens undecided on Benji's replacement

By Billy Freeman 14/03/2006 07:17:40 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens says he'll "experiment" with the five-eighth role against the Bulldogs in Friday night's NRL clash at Telstra Stadium, and Brett Hodgson may be the guinea pig.

Sheens has named Daniel Fitzhenry in the No.6 jersey against the Bulldogs, replacing Benji Marshall who fractured his cheekbone in last week's victory over St George Illawarra.

Sheens says Hodgson, the former NSW Origin fullback, is one of a number of options the Tigers have to play at five-eighth.

But he says Fitzhenry, who usually plays on the wing, is the best option, due to his versatility.

"He's been playing there off and on for us for the last couple of years, so I think he's our best option, although we've got a couple of ideas to experiment with," Sheens said.

"We've got the added advantage of Brett Hodgson, who plays the pivot role as well.

"He can afford to move to five-eighth and not play the traditional game and do a bit of running from dummy half, which we want."

Sheens has brushed off concerns that Fitzhenry might have too big an adjustment to make coming in from wing to five-eighth, where he'll be closer to the action.

"The fact that he's been a utility player from just about day one since I've been here means it's not a as big a change from wing to five-eighth as you'd think it is," Sheens said.

"He's been practicing there early in the year, played there in the World Club Challenge and had a run there in the trials."

And he's dismissed talk the Tigers can't win without Marshall.

"I don't worry about what the critics say," Sheens said.

"If we did that, we would never get out on the football field.

"The fact that Benji is a very good, talented player is evident, but I believe he had a shocker last week against St George Illawarra.

"Benji played poorly. He knows it.

"He contributed to all of their tries, he contributed to the try that won it for us and he showed a lot of courage, but outside that, he played poorly, yet we still won the game."

Fitzhenry said he felt confident stepping into the five-eighth position, having played most of the 2003 season there.

"You've got Princey (Scott Prince) there, who calls most of the shots," Fitzhenry said.

"I don't think I'll be a Benji Marshall, but I'll do my best."

Rookie Michael Crockett will take Fitzhenry's place on the wing, while youngster Ben Reynolds and Manly recruit Sam Harris take their place on the interchange bench.

Meanwhile, St George Illawarra has named hooker Dean Young at five-eighth to replace ill skipper Trent Barrett for Sunday's match against Penrith at WIN Stadium.

Ben Hornby will skipper the Dragons in place of Barrett, who has a stomach virus, while Colin Best returns to the wing in place of Wes Naiqama, who has an ankle injury.

The match is also prop Jason Ryles' 100th first grade game.

Elsewhere, off-season signings Lance Thompson and Ben Ross will make their debuts for Cronulla when the Sharks meet Brisbane at Toyota Park on Saturday night.

It will be Cronulla's first game of the year, after having the bye last week.

And Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes has dropped former City Origin representative Reni Maitua to the interchange bench for the match against the Tigers, replaced by Andrew Emilio.

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary has shifted Jerome Ropati to five-eighth to replace the suspended Sione Faumuina for Saturday night's game against Parramatta in Waikato.

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