Berrigan to stay on Raiders bench
Canberra Raiders recruit Shaun Berrigan during recovery yesterday. Photo: Graham Tidy
The Raiders will resist the temptation to thrust Shaun Berrigan into a starting hooker role, despite his strong performance at dummy half off the bench in Sunday's 18-12 loss to Manly at Brookvale Oval.
Canberra looked far more dangerous when Berrigan was thrown in the action late in the first half, his experience and creativity causing Manly plenty of headaches around the ruck.
But the 34-year-old believes he may be best suited to a bench role, at least for the immediate future, until he gets some match fitness under his belt.
Berrigan has played at centre in his first eight games for the Raiders.
Sunday's match was his first game at hooker since round three for the Warriors last year.
''It was a lot tougher … I only got 39 minutes out, but it was good to be in there,'' Berrigan said.
''I haven't played there for over a year, so it's definitely a different workload on your legs.
''My legs definitely got a lot heavier in there, and the more time I spend there the better I'll get.
''I came on when they were a bit tired as well which always helps and we started to get some more ball too, I was happy with how I went.''
Raiders assistant coach Andrew McFadden said the side may be loathe to start Berrigan after his short passing and running game took advantage of Manly's fatigued forwards.
''He really gave us some spark off the bench and maybe … when the opposition gets tired, maybe that's the best time to inject him,'' McFadden said.
''At the end of his stint he was pretty tanked, he's been defending on the edge and it's going to take some time for him to get his match fitness in the middle.''
McFadden said starting Berrigan at hooker may become an option later in the season.
''That's something I know Furnsey [Raiders coach David Furner] will look at,'' McFadden said.
''I think Travis did a very good job, he's a very strong defender and he gives us that starch at the start of the game.
''That combination worked really well for us.''
Regular starting hooker Glen Buttriss, who missed the match against the Sea Eagles with a knee injury, is a chance to return to the side for Sunday's clash against Parramatta.
Berrigan's move to the bench opened the door for youngster Jack Wighton to slot in at right centre.
The 19-year-old performed admirably, particularly in defence early when tested by Manly hard man Steve Matai.
''He's a tough kid and he's a first grader, he will only get better,'' McFadden said.
''He's handling first grade very well and given his performance on the weekend, that's certainly something we'll stick with.
''As long as he's holding his form, he'll be there.''
Berrigan said the Raiders received a timely injection of confidence from their strong effort against Manly, despite failing to secure the two points.
''The boys really turned up in defence, we only let in 18 points which wasn't good enough to win the game on the day but it was a much better showing,'' he said.