Calling all Warriors’ fans to Cowboys’ clash

Calling all Warriors’ fans to Cowboys’ clash

Warriors’ star halfback Shaun Johnson has shared some of the emotion he felt facing the crowd at Moreton Daily Stadium after his side’s 20-6 win over the Broncos last weekend.

It comes as his side prepares to take on the Cowboys at Redcliffe on Friday night without a couple of key players.

Utility forward Jazz Tevaga has been suspended for two matches on a dangerous contact charge and interchange forward Ben Murdoch-Masila is sidelined with a leg injury he picked up just 18 minutes into his return last week.

On top of that, captain Addin Fonua-Blake has been listed on the expanded bench after picking up a knock against Brisbane. He has to get through training this week if he is to play.

The game will mark the return of interchange prop Aaron Pene from a shoulder injury and backrower Bayley Sironen, who has recovered from COVID-19.

First-choice centre Rocco Berry is also back in the mix after sitting out last week with a virus and fellow young centre Viliami Vailea is on the expanded bench having recovered from the knee injury which sidelined him after the first-round defeat by St George Illawarra.

Sironen, who was on the bench in the first three rounds, comes into the second row with Josh Curran switched back to loose forward.

For the first time this season, Brown has been able to select the same spine for a second week running with Wayde Egan at hooker, Shaun Johnson and Chanel Harris-Tavita in the halves and Reece Walsh at fullback.

Ready to face the Cowboys

Curran, who has started the season strongly after a productive preseason, says his confidence is growing with every game and he is looking forward to taking on the Cowboys this weekend.

“I can’t wait. Obviously, they’ve got a big forward pack – Taumalolo, and McLean and they’ll be up for the battle. Pet (Peta Hiku) and Jamayne (Taunoa-Brown) and Chaddy (Chad Townsend) used to be here, so I’m sure they’ll all get on board and try to get behind them and it’s going to be a good game,” he says.

He’s expecting the former Warriors who will be lining up for the Cowboys to come out firing as his teammates, former Broncos did against their old club last week.

“Everyone gets a bit nervous playing against their old club. When we were versing the Broncs, we brought it up at Captain’s Run about the boys playing against their old club. I think we had four boys playing against their old club. It plays at the back of the boys’ heads and it’s one game they just want to go out and do their best,” Curran explains.

“I’m sure they’ll be saying that up there at the Cowboys. I’m sure Pet, Mandy and Chaddy will be giving it all they’ve got.”

And he’s keen to again see plenty of Warriors’ fans in the crowd to spur his side on.

“It was a sell-out crowd last week and we definitely could hear the Warriors’ fans. We all enjoy coming out here at Redcliffe and I know there are heaps of Warriors’ fans out here. We do take notice of it,” Curran says.

SJ’s special moment

After the game on Saturday, Johnson walked towards the Des Webb stand at Moreton Daily Stadium where he received a hero’s welcome from the crowd. It was obvious he was thrilled to play in front of Warriors’ fans in the jersey that means so much to him. This is how he describes it …

“That was a really cool moment actually. There’s been a lot of talk about me leaving the club … what I missed a lot was the fan base and how hearty the Warriors’ supporters were and supported me throughout my career at the club. I never really got to say goodbye or a proper send-off or something like that,” Johnson explains.

“It was just cool to come back and feel that love again, that really warm reception. When I was walking over, I just saw then start to stand up and then I just put my hands up and gave them a clap and they just went off and I was just like, ‘far out’.

“It’s the people I’ve got a connection to and why I wanted to come back and play and the people I want to represent while I wear this jersey. That’s no disrespect to Cronulla or any other club but to me it just means more to wear this jersey. It means something different. Just being a Kiwi boy, growing up … all I wanted to do was wear this jersey and play for this club.

“Obviously being able to do that and experience the love and support and passion that’s all that moment was on Saturday … feeling that again for the first time.”

So, what does he want from the crowd this Friday night?

“More of the same would be nice. I’m sure they’d like us to go out there and get a win as well – it goes hand in hand doesn’t it. We don’t get to play at Mount Smart, but I thought the way Warriors’ supporters across Brisbane came out whether they were local or had to drive an hour or two to come out to show their support for us … I know as a playing group we certainly appreciated it,” he says.

“It was funny, when we were told it was a sell-out, we were all sort of thinking it’s all going to be Broncos’ supporters we’ll probably get booed but at least it will be a mad atmosphere. To run out and feel the reception that it was just not that at all, we were well and truly supported.

“It was like ‘man, these guys are behind us’. Hopefully we can go out there this weekend, put on an even better performance than we did last week … yeah just give them something to cheer about.”

VODAFONE WARRIORS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS

Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe

6pm, Friday, April 8

TEAM LIST

1 REECE WALSH

2 EDWARD KOSI

3 JESSE ARTHARS

4 ADAM POMPEY

5 MARCELO MONTOYA

6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA

7 SHAUN JOHNSON

8 BUNTY AFOA

9 WAYDE EGAN (C)

10 MATT LODGE

11 EUAN AITKEN

12 BAYLEY SIRONEN

13 JOSH CURRAN

Interchange:

14 KODI NIKORIMA

15 ELIESA KATOA

16 AARON PENE

17 JACK MURCHIE

18 TANIELA OTUKOLO

20 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE

21 ROCCO BERRY

22 PRIDE PETTERSON-ROBATI

23 JUNIOR RATUVA

24 VILIAMI VAILEA

25 OTUKINEKINA KEPU

Head coach | Nathan BROWN

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