Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has admitted that Penrith halves James Maloney and Nathan Cleary haven’t been good in the opening rounds of the NRL but the return of Panthers wrecking ball Viliame Kikau could be just the tonic they need to reignite their season.
Kikau has been named to make a timely return from a knee injury for the grudge match against Wests Tigers at Penrith Stadium tonight, which will see Panthers coach Ivan Cleary up against the club he left under messy circumstances last year.
There will be just as much interest in the performance of Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues incumbent halves Maloney and Cleary, who have struggled to create opportunities this season culminating with the dismal 32-2 loss to Melbourne in Bathurst last round.
“I’m not worried, we’re only three games in, there’s a long way to go,” Fittler told Five with Freddy for nswrl.com.au
“I think we’re 63, 62 days until Origin I so they’ve got about another 50-odd days until we pick the team.”
Fittler said the return of Kikau, who hasn’t played this season after picking up a medial ligament knee injury in a trial match against South Sydney, should hopefully help the Panthers halves bounce back to their best form.
The barnstorming Fijian backrower had a breakout year in 2018 after playing 25 games, scoring five tries, coming up with 105 tackle busts and running for 3,234 metres.
“They haven’t been good but I think Viliame Kikau will give them a real point of attack,” Fittler said.
“It looks like when they’re down the other team’s end they’re just not coming up with anything that’s giving them points. There’s just not much going on.
“Hopefully he will spur them into action.
“They’re doing some good things but just at the moment they’re not scoring points and that’s they’re job to create points and opportunities so they’ve got to get into gear.”