Door opens for Jets stars in Tigertown
THE STARS have aligned at the Wests Tigers for former Jets props Rod Griffin and Billy McConnachie to state a compelling case to be included in the top 17 when the 2016 season kicks off.
Griffin and McConnachie have both signed one-year deals and will need to assert themselves at pre-season training to get the NRL debuts they both crave.
But developments off the field at the Tigers in the past few months have played into their hands.
The Tigers have seen an exodus of props.
Kiwi international Martin Taupau has signed with the Sea Eagles after being given a release one-year before his Tigers contract expired.
Veteran Keith Galloway has left for the Super League and Matthew Lodge was sacked by the club last month after running amok in New York.
McConnachie and Griffin play the right positions to make up for the shortfall in front-rowers. Jets coach Shane Walker said the duo will also be well served by key changes in the interchange rules.
"The other thing to throw in the mix as far as their stars aligning is that the game goes to eight interchanges next year," Walker said.
"They have both got really good endurance.
"Rod would often punch out 80 minutes for us and Billy played 70 minutes in the (Intrust Super Cup) grand final here.
"They are both forwards capable of playing long minutes at a very high intensity."
Walker said that the duo also had the mobility that would be needed by props in the coming years.
"I would expect to see more mobility in forward packs and I have read of some forwards dropping five or 10 kilos to cope with the expected demands," Walker said.
Griffin dropped 10 kilos in a pre-season recently which assisted his mobility while McConnachie will only benefit from a full-time training program.
"We saw with Matt Parcell at the Broncos this year that a full-time training puts the right condition in the right places," Walker said.
"Both Rod and Billy are ripe to make a real impact."