Rugby League: New Zealand Warriors lose key quartet to Rabbitohs clash
Addin Fonua-Blake will captain the Warriors next weekend. Photo / Photosport
The Warriors will have another significantly overhauled roster this weekend, following the injury carnage from Sunday’s loss to the Panthers.
They lost four front row players to Saturday’s clash with South Sydney (5:00 p.m. NZT), reducing the already slim chances of stopping their current losing streak.
Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (concussion) and center Rocco Berry (hamstrings) were excluded, along with second rower Tohu Harris (knee) and hooker Wayde Egan (shoulder).
Harris, Tuivasa-Sheck and Egan were forced off the pitch in quick succession early in the first half last Sunday, while Berry was out of the game in the 36th minute.
Harris won’t be back until next year after an ACL injury while Egan could also be out for the season, although the extent of his shoulder injury is still being assessed.
Harris, who was the club’s player of the season in 2020, is a huge loss. His skillful attacking touches aside, Harris delivers a workload on both sides of the ball that few can replicate and he is one of the main leaders of the team.
Egan’s absence is also critical, as the only specialist hooker with NRL experience on the team.
It is not yet known when Tuivasa-Sheck and Berry will be available to return.
Tuivasa-Sheck’s absence – the first game he’s missed this season – means mainstay Addin Fonua-Blake will be the team’s captain.
Kodi Nikorima is back in half, having been used as a trade option last Sunday, while Adam Pompey enters the back row for Berry.
Jazz Tevaga will fill Egan’s crucial No.9 role, with Josh Curran returning to lockdown while Jack Murchie is named to replace Harris.
Rookie hooker Taniela Otukolo could make his second NRL appearance, listed on the exchange bench alongside Bunty Afoa, Leeson Ah Mau and Eliesa Katoa.
Ben Murdoch-Masila, who was a notable off-season rookie, remains in disgrace. The Tongan international has made a big impact in the first half of the season, but has been poor in recent losses to the Dragons and Sharks.
Kane Evans has been named 18th man, but the club are awaiting news of possible NRL penalties, after the accessory was filmed with an obscene message on his bracelet during Sunday’s game.
“The handwriting was inappropriate, the words that appeared on that strapping,” NRL elite football manager Graeme Annesley said on Monday.
“This will be dealt with by the executive. It is under review, at the moment. There has been precedent for how these kinds of issues have been handled in the past. It will be considered in conjunction with the type. action that it was and could bring the game into disrepute. “
The Warriors have lost eight of their last nine games.
The club’s last victory was on May 21 against the Tigers. Since then, he’s lost six straight games – including one-point losses to the Cowboys and Dragons – to come out of competition for the top eight.
The team showed admirable spirit against the Panthers, but fell to 14th place on the NRL ladder, just ahead of the Broncos and Bulldogs, in what is shaping up to be a forgettable campaign. .
WARRIORS v SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
5:00 p.m. (NZT), Sunday July 24, 2021, Sunshine Coast Stadium, Queensland
Warriors: Reece Walsh, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Adam Pompey, Euan Aitken, Marcelo Montoya, Kodi Nikorima, Chad Townsend, Addin Fonua-Blake (c), Jazz Tevaga, Matt Lodge, Jack Murchie, Bayley Sironen, Josh Curran. Exchange: Taniela Otukolo, Eliesa Katoa, Bunty Afoa, Leeson Ah Mau, Kane Evans, Edward Kosi, Sean O’Sullivan, Ben Murdoch-Masila.