The Warriors will be looking to take control of their clash against the Titans on Saturday, so they can play a positive style of footy and prove they are a different side to the one who lost 44-0 to their Gold Coast rivals in round 25 last year.
The Warriors welcome back Matt Lodge and Reece Walsh from suspension for the game, while new signings Ash Taylor and Jesse Arthars will debut for their new club against their old one.
Lodge says it will be a test for the forwards against the Titans’ big pack but he’s looking forward to his first game back after missing the side’s round one 16-28 loss to the Dragons last weekend.
He says the team made too many errors and its completion rate needed to be 75-80 per cent to win the game.
He’s not too concerned about changes to the squad for this game as a result of injuries to Shaun Johnson, Viliami Vailea and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
“Fortunately for us it’s only been one game. Everyone’s had a good preseason and the squad’s been rotating so I think everyone’s ready to go,” Lodge says.
“It’s unfortunate we lose those guys due to injury, someone else gets an opportunity and I’m sure they’re excited and they’ve done all the work in preseason and are ready to go.”
Lodge is also keen to prove he can play positive footy after an ill-disciplined display on the field and towards the crowd during the team’s loss against the Titans in round 25. He was fined $5000 by the NRL for his behaviour.
When asked about it during a press conference yesterday, Lodge said it was something he was keen to forget and he had been working on his shortcomings during the offseason.
“It’s definitely something that holds me back a little bit, at bit of a temper, short fuse sometimes. I’ve had a bit of time away from social media and I’m a big fan of the game but … I haven’t watched trials or read many articles,” he explains.
“I’ve just kinda found a few hobbies. I feel a bit refreshed and just not let things like that get to me. It was a tough couple of years of footy and probably the frustration just spilled over in those last few weeks and it was a bit embarrassing how I went out that last game. (I’ve) just got to keep that stuff under control. Fresh start, new year, let’s go.”
One of those new hobbies is fishing and he says he’s now doing a “fishing apprenticeship”.
“I’m enjoying the Redcliffe area and taking a few of the lads out fishing and having good fun. I’m just learning from scratch and loving it. I’ve got all the gear, no idea.”
When asked if he has a favourite fishing spot on the Redcliffe peninsula, he’s quick to answer.
“I think the locals are stitching me up. I get some GPS co-ordinates and I can’t catch a fish so … If anyone’s reading the article, feel free to help me out,” he says.
“I’ve just got to play a simple game, put my head down and go forward, help us complete and get to our kicks,” Lodge says.
“We’ve got a big forward pack but we probably played a little bit fancy last week. We’re encouraging positive footy, but I think there’s a time and place for it and I’ll be bringing a more simple approach and doing my job for the team so we get to our kicks, work hard and try to grind out a win.”
He’s expecting a tough, physical encounter on Saturday.
“They’re a talented team. I’m expecting big powerful ball runners, they play some good footy, they throw the ball around, they test you out, they’re willing to try and score from anyone on the field so you’ve got to stay alert against some big, powerful backs now too and they’re well coached so it will be a hard task,” Lodge says.
Head Coach Nathan Brown says better performances would change perceptions of inconsistency and, while there are positives in the Warriors’ loss to the Dragons in round one, there are plenty of areas to work on.
“Perception is something you’ve got to change and you change that with performance,” Brown explains.
“We felt our preseason was very good, our preparation for that game was really good but we didn’t show that with the way we controlled the ball and kicked the ball. We obviously put ourselves in some really difficult situations … it was a bit more of our own doing but I can certainly see why people would say that.
“You can only go off what you see and it’s up to us to change that perception. It’s only round one but hopefully by round 20, people are saying that’s certainly not how they’re seeing the Warriors these days.
“When you’re making change and you’re trying to do things differently sometimes learning’s a bit ugly and we got some tough lessons on the weekend.”
Brown says to lose after clawing back to lead 16-14 was particularly disappointing, but he says changes to the side for this weekend’s game were due to injury, not performance.
“The most positive thing that came out of round one for me was young Viliami Vailea, Rocco Berry, Eliesa Katoa and Josh Curran are all youngish sort of players … those four guys are all far better players than they were this time last year and that’s important for the growth of our football club. That was the most pleasing thing to come out of the contest,” he says.
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