Josh Reynolds is no certainty to force his way into the Tigers’ starting side. (AAP Image/Craig Golding)
Josh Reynolds is no certainty to force his way into the Tigers’ starting side. (AAP Image/Craig Golding)

Reynolds might have to get used to super-sub tag

WESTS Tigers coach Ivan Cleary insists he won't be rushed into injecting Josh Reynolds into his line-up as he seeks to squeeze as much out the Benji Marshall and Luke Brooks combination.

Reynolds was arguably the most high-profile recruit over the summer, but shoulder and hamstring injuries have limited the former NSW State of Origin star to just three matches for his new club.

And while he has managed to come through unscathed over the past fortnight, Cleary won't be tempted into starting Reynolds in his favoured position at five-eighth.

"Josh is still managing his way through some injuries. He hasn't played a lot of football for a long time and he's still trying to find his feet," Cleary said ahead of Sunday's NRL clash against Cronulla.

"We've had Benji and Luke in the halves there all year, so they've got a good combination going.

"But Josh really added something to us last week and the more game time he gets, the better he'll get. What we do then, we'll work it out."

The Tigers made a mockery of pre-season expectations when they won five of their opening six games.

Tigers marquee man Josh Reynolds in action.
Tigers marquee man Josh Reynolds in action.

But the balloon has well and truly burst on Cleary's side, who have since lost five of their past seven and dropped out of the top eight for the first time this year with last week's defeat to the Sydney Roosters.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan, whose team's six-game winning streak was snapped by South Sydney last week, identified stopping the Tigers' playmakers as a priority.

Halfback Brooks is equal first in the league in forcing line dropouts.

"Benji's playing really well. He's got a lot of little tricks to his game. Their halves have got a really good kicking game," Flanagan said.

"We need to be really smart. If they get down on our tryline, I think they've forced more line dropouts than any other team in the competition so we need to be good in that area."

A win for the Tigers could result in them leapfrogging the seventh-placed Sharks, while a loss could set them four points adrift of the top half of the ladder.

Tigers winger Malakai Watene-Zelezniak has been recalled for David Nofoaluma (knee), while Sharks flyer Sosaia Feki has made way for returning Queensland star Valentine Holmes.

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