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Piggy could get stuck in mud

By Ben Horne 10/12/2010 05:57:01 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has warned likely recruit Mark Riddell that he could play the majority of the 2011 NRL season in reserve grade.

Sheens is keen to sign the 29-year-old hooker as a back-up option for Robbie Farah, but has been brutally honest with the current Wigan rake about what he should expect.

In the event of injury or representative duty for Farah, `Piggy' Riddell with his 178 matches of NRL experience for St George Illawarra and Parramatta, would be the competition's best replacement No.9.

But in the meantime, with Farah an 80 minute player, it isn't so simple as sticking Riddell on the bench as a fresh reserve.

Out of respect for Riddell's talents, Sheens has felt the need to explain the very real possibility that his star signing could be spending weekends at suburban grounds for Western Suburbs or Balmain while he waits for an opportunity.

"If Rob was a half a game hooker like some, Mark would be happy to play second fiddle. My issue is, and I've spoken to him about it, is he may play premier league," Sheens told AAP.

"He's a big time performer, he played last year's Super League grand final, so his position being a specialist cover for Robbie is great ... it could go good for him or it could go not so good in that he won't get much first grade.

"Just as long as Mark understands that could be an issue."

Riddell will increase his likelihood of regular NRL games if he can use his size to adapt to playing quality minutes at lock forward as well as dummy half.

Sheens admits he's not ruling anything out, and it's possible Riddell could even be accommodated in the side at hooker, to allow Farah to shift to halfback.

"If we did have an issue in the No.7 jumper that could happen," Sheens said.

"I've never liked moving Robbie before because I don't like strengthening one (position) and weakening another, but I think Mark at his best could certainly play 9 and Robbie could play 7."

Riddell has completed a medical for the Tigers and, once that's assessed, a decision will be made on a deal by next week.

However, in anticipation of his arrival, Wests have further bolstered their forward pack by re-signing Chris Heighington and Todd Payten.

Heighington has extended his contract for a further two years until the end of 2013, while Payten's one-year extension locks him in black, gold and white until the end of 2012.

Payten, with 247 first grade games, says reaching the rare 300 milestone was a motivation for staying in Australia.

"It's a big goal of mine. A lot of things have to go my way before that can happen. I think it's a fair achievement for a frontrower to do that," Payten said.

Heighington, a Umina Bunnies junior, had been targeted by the Central Coast Bears to be their inaugural captain should they be admitted to the NRL in 2013 - but his new deal ends that possibility.

It was also a big day for the Tigers off the field, with Meriton Apartments, owned by billionaire Harry Triguboff, signing on as major sponsors for the next two seasons.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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