Off-contract Liddle in Tigers' No.9 battle

Jacob Liddle is aiming to cement a place as Wests Tigers' No.9 and earn a new NRL contract.
Jacob Liddle is aiming to cement a place as Wests Tigers' No.9 and earn a new NRL contract.

Bravery can take many forms but for Wests Tigers hooker Jacob Liddle it means simply trying again.

The 24-year-old is not only battling for the starting hooker role with rookie Jake Simpkin this season, but also for his NRL future with the club he loves.

Across the past six seasons Liddle has gone from promising junior, to enduring three major surgeries that would leave any person doubting their own ability.

But not Liddle.

He was first touted as 'the next Robbie Farah' as a teen but two shoulder surgeries and an ACL injury hampered his rise, while the arrival of Harry Grant last year forced him to wait even longer to prove he can be the Tigers' first-choice hooker.

"It's tough, you don't get used to rehab but you get better at it," Liddle told AAP.

"It's all a mental game.

"It's staying in a positive mindset, not looking weeks ahead, just taking it day by day and having good people around you."

Now, after 43 games in five seasons for the Tigers, Liddle is in the final year of his contract.

Through sheer bad luck, the Central Coast product has never been able to get going, but he's facing this make or break season with the hope he can finally show what he is capable of.

"You don't want to think about that stuff but it's facts," he said.

"I just want to play some footy again and I'm just happy to be back on the field.

"It's been a frustrating couple of years and I'm not taking anything for granted anymore."

Liddle was impressive in the Tigers' trial win over Manly on Sunday but he's unsure if he did enough to secure the No.9 jersey for their NRL opener against Canberra.

He wants to play 80 minutes in the middle but if being on the field means working in tandem with Simpkin, or even moving into lock, he's willing to do anything coach Michael Maguire asks.

"I'd love to play 80," Liddle said.

"It's always been a goal of mine as a hooker, especially with limited interchange.

"But if Madge wants to put another hooker on the bench or whatever he's going to do with me I'm happy."

Australian Associated Press