Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter has brushed aside St George Illawarra’s complaints about the club being granted permission to breach the salary cap for Saturday’s NRL clash.
Potter will hand debuts to promising halfback Luke Brooks and young prop Nathan Brown against the Dragons after being given the green light by NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert to go over the second-tier cap.
With both sides being out of finals contention and the Tigers struggling with a crippling injury list, Schubert acquiesced for one week only.
That move incurred the wrath of Dragons CEO Peter Doust who said the application of such discretion was ill-conceived.
Relations between the two joint-ventures deteriorated when Tim Moltzen’s move to the Dragons failed to materialise in 2011 and Doust instigated legal proceedings against the Tigers.
Potter said he “wasn’t surprised” by Doust’s comments but was at a loss to explain why the Dragons were so irate.
“We had to apply to the NRL and I guess that is why another club is upset,” Potter said.
“It’s not like we are stockpiling a player like Israel Folau or someone like that to come in.
“It’s two young players making their NRL debuts.”
Brooks, who turns 19 in December and 20-year-old Brown are both highly-rated by the Tigers and Potter is keen to see how they handle the step up from reserve grade in front of a big crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.
“There’s been quite a lot of raps for them both inside and outside of the organisation,” Potter said.
“Brooks is a good young player with a big future and this is a chance to show what he has got.
“I think he’ll do OK, he is not the complete package in terms of being a regular first-grader right now.
“But another pre-season in 2014 we will see him in a better light and this is an opportunity for us and I thank the NRL for allowing us to bring a young junior through and giving him a start.”
The Dragons won the last meeting between the sides thanks to a field goal in golden point by Jamie Soward in round six.
It was one of only six victories for Steve Price’s side this year and skipper Ben Creagh admits his first season as captain has been difficult.
“It’s never nice when you lose and although being captain doesn’t make the felling any worse, you want to be leading a team that is winning,” Creagh told AAP.
“We are obviously still focused on the Tigers game, but we are all excited about next season.
“We have some great players joining us and the future is bright.”