Ayshford in spotlight for Tigers' NRL run - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ayshford in spotlight for Tigers' NRL run

By David Beniuk 22/08/2011 06:42:06 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers centre Blake Ayshford says stepping up in the absence of Test star Chris Lawrence is the secret to his scintillating NRL form.

Ayshford bagged a double in the Tigers' impressive 31-12 disposal of Parramatta at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday, shrugging off Eels superstar Jarryd Hayne with ease to get his second.

The rangy 23-year-old plays on the opposite side to Lawrence, who will be sidelined until the finals with a hamstring injury, but has been determined to make the Tigers' right side attack as lethal as their left.

He says he grabbed the extra responsibility when Lawrence was sidelined for three months with a dislocated hip.

"When he was out injured the first time, I took it upon myself to step up a bit," Ayshford told reporters on Monday.

"He's the go-to man and I sort of had to fill a big void in the backline.

"Yesterday was just some lucky handles but I've tried to step my game up with Chrissy on one side to try and have two strike weapons."

Ayshford's form has been a major part of the Tigers' charge towards the top four with six straight wins, but he said he still had a way to go.

"I'm still a bit inconsistent with some defence. I'm in and out of games a bit," he said.

"I've had a couple more highlights than other years which I'm proud of but there's still a long way to go."

The arrival of Joel Reddy from Parramatta next year will mean a battle for centre spots at the Tigers and Ayshford admits he has thought about the possibility of a return to the back row, where he played as a junior.

"I spoke to the coach about that," he said. "The back row may be (my position) in the future.

"Hopefully, I'll stay in the centres for the next couple of years. I really want to cement a spot there.

"But if it means I have to move to the back row for the team, then that's what I'll do."

The Tigers are likely to be boosted by the returns of internationals Lote Tuqiri (quad) and Gareth Ellis (groin) for Monday night's clash with Gold Coast at Campbelltown.

Veteran forward Todd Payten, who will play his last regular season home game for the club against the Titans, said the side had taken confidence out of Sunday's win without Ellis.

"Everyone stepped up in Gareth's absence," he said.

"Along with Chris Heighington and Bryce Gibbs, he's been our forward leader and consistently our best for a number of weeks now and to have him back this week is certainly a good thing."

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