John Skandalis the frontrunner to replace Todd Payten

Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens is seriously contemplating handing experienced prop John Skandalis the starting front row spot in light of Payten’s potentially season-ending injury.

Unless Payten’s scans clear him of any serious damage, Skandalis looks likely to replace Payten who rolled his ankle after stepping on a tennis ball in a training mishap at Tigers training.

Despite retiring from professional football 2 years ago, the 34-year-old prop despite not being a part of the Tigers top 25 over the last two seasons, he has played in 19 first-grade games and is evidently, still quite fit.

Skandalis who injured his buttocks in the Rd 25 win over the Melbourne Storm was expected to miss the remainder of the season, but the veteran prop will receive a surprise call-up, and perhaps a second chance at winning the NRL premiership.

Whilst Sheens is somewhat concerned that Skandalis hasn’t played in a while, he is believed to be favouring Skandalis over a younger player like Ben Murdoch-Masila.

“Whether we activate Johnny Skandalis we’ll wait and see,” Sheens said on Thursday.

“John hasn’t played for three weeks so that’s a bit of an issue. I’m just looking at him, he trained strongly yesterday so that may be another option for us.

“I was relying more on the experienced forwards to carry us and do more time on the park rather than the younger ones.

“But if we have to push their time out a little bit more this week we will.

“He’s a pretty fit boy John, having worked as the (under) 20s fitness coordinator this year so he’s very fit, and his experience would have a major part in my decision.”

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