PAUL Anderson has every confidence young Huddersfield Giants prop Nathan Mason will flourish at champions St Helens on Friday - in only his first Super League game since debuting almost two years ago.
Mason, 21, is included in the 19-man squad and is expected to play as the West Yorkshire club seek to overhaul their hosts and possibly move up to second.
Giants are not short on numbers - Leeds Rhinos-bound Ireland prop Anthony Mullally drops out of the squad that defeated Hull KR on Sunday in the only change.
But Anderson believes Oldham-born Mason is ready for a shot.
He debuted off the bench as part of a makeshift Giants side in the final regular fixture of the 2013 season, a week after Huddersfield had clinched the League Leaders’ Shield.
However, Mason has played most of his rugby since on dual-registration at League 1 leaders Oldham.
“He’s been really good and playing well at Oldham,” said Anderson.
“(Oldham coach) Scott Naylor won’t be happy losing him but he’s a Giants player at the end of the day.”
Asked if it’s a big call bringing him in for such a big contest, Anderson added: “If you’re good enough then why not?
“We’re at a point where we’ve been talking about (youngsters) Nathan Mason, Josh Johnson, Jake Connor and - not so much Jared Simpson who’s gone under the radar even more than them - but talking about them for a long time.
“It’s starting to get to a point where we have to play them as they are ready to play.
“It’s good for us for many reasons - homegrown players and salary cap implications means if you’ve got young players like that in you can spend your money elsewhere can’t you?
“It’s good for our junior section that people like Jake, Nathan Josh Johnson and Jared are getting these chances.”
Obviously, there has been a big gap between Super League games for Mason.
“He’s still young for a prop,” added Anderson, who, of course is a former Great Britain front-row himself.
“I’m not saying he’s the finished article yet but he is a lot better than where he was when he first made his debut two years ago.
“I remember that game (versus Bradford) and actually being disappointed with how he went; I wanted a little bit more from him but he was a 19 year -old and I expected him to rip it up.
“I’m confident of what he’s capable of now and confident he’ll go well.”