Laurie faces major battle to grab Tigers fullback role
Michael Maguire has no doubt new Wests Tigers recruit Daine Laurie is NRL ready to handle playing fullback this season.
But before he gets handed the No.1 jumper Laurie will have to win a pre-season shootout with Moses Mbye in the upcoming trials.
The former Penrith young gun joined the Tigers in camp at Tamworth on Sunday after a player trade was finally signed off on that will see centre Paul Momirovski move to the foot of the mountains immediately.
Laurie had originally signed with the Tigers for the 2022 and 2023 seasons but Maguire is stoked the deal has been brought forward.
Laurie, 21, is regarded as one of the NRL's most exciting rising talents, despite only playing three games in the top grade, and Maguire doesn't hide from the fact that fullback is where is where he is best suited to forge out his career.
But the issue for Maguire right now is that Mbye has trained to play fullback all summer and so has earned the right to fight for the spot.
Maguire was also adamant that Laurie has not been promised to start the season playing his preferred position.
"And I have had those discussions with him about coming in and performing," Maguire said.
"It will sort itself out.
"I think long term that he is a fullback.
"But what I would say there is that Moses has been training at fullback all this pre-season and he has been excellent.
"As we do know, Moses also gives us cover in a few positions.
"Obviously we have games coming up so we will see where everyone fits."
But it finally puts to bed a two-year chase for a No.1 after missing out on Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr.
With Adam Doueihi now focusing on playing five-eighth, Mbye looks most likely to fill that utility role off the bench, given the Tigers have also signed James Roberts to be Joey Leilua's centre partner.
"I guess it gives me some good decisions to make moving forward which I guess I probably haven't had within the club for my period here, especially in the fullback position," Maguire said.
Asked if Laurie was ready to handle playing fullback at NRL level, Maguire said: "I believe so.
"He has played a fair bit in the halves as a five-eighth in reserve grade but he has predominantly played fullback."
Maguire said across the squad there are still several decisions to be made as to who wins starting spots for round one.
"It might take a bit of time to find our best team but what it does is make the boys extremely competitive,' he said.
"I am very open to work out what the best combinations are for our team with the forward pack and now with our halves and fullback position.
"It does give us some good depth."
Momirovski's deal at Penrith is for two years and means the Panthers have four spots to fill in their top-30 for this season.
Originally published as Laurie faces major battle to grab Tigers fullback role