In a taste of what’s to come next year, the Warriors will take on the Broncos as the home side in a ‘local derby’ at Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium this weekend.
Kick-off is at 2pm on Saturday. Head here for tickets.
Warriors’ Head Coach Nathan Brown says excitement is building among local league fans – those who are excited about the Dolphins entering the NRL next year, those who have adopted the Warriors as their ‘home team’ and the passionate contingent of Kiwis who call the Moreton Bay Region home.
“It’s the first time we’ve lived in a place, trained in a place and played in the same place in a couple of years now so it’s our hit-out at Redcliffe and we want to leave a real good footprint here,” Brown says.
“The Dolphins will take over next year but we’d love to leave here where we’ll have our five games here and (have) put in five really good performances. One thing, we’re playing a Brisbane team. The Brisbane team provides for us a derby. That adds something to it for us. Normally living over in Auckland we don’t have any neighbours to play.
“I think they (locals) are genuinely keen to come and watch us play and support us from a point of view that ‘you’re here, you’re our local team, we’ll support you’. I think the fact that Redcliffe’s coming in in 12 months’ time probably adds a little more excitement to the fact that we are here.”
Brown will be looking for a more consistent performance from the entire squad on the back of two losses so far this season and a hard-fought win against Wests Tigers last week (16-12).
“Getting two points is important. Obviously winning is at the end of the day what you want to achieve. I was pretty honest and clear after the game (last weekend) that I thought we played far better against the Gold Coast (in round two),” he says.
“There’s some great positives that came out of the game, the other day. Reece Walsh not only got the best player from the media side of things but he got the best player from his teammates. He never scored a try, he never set up a try and he did it because of areas when he didn’t have the ball and that’s a real work-on for Reece and so it was a real pleasing thing.
“We’ve all seen the growth in Jazz Tevaga’s game. He’s far more consistent now … a lot of the other things have gone out of his game, so that was a real positive.
“Obviously the way we played as a group is not where we need to be.”
Brown says there have been ‘chunks of games” when some players have performed well and others haven’t been up to standard.
“We’ve just to get 14-15 players with a nice solid performance at once and I think we’ll see our game grow a fair bit,” he says.
For this weekend’s clash with the Broncos, star halfback Shaun Johnson is tipped to make his return after being named on the extended bench.
“He’s much more likely than unlikely. He trained the other day and got through that well. It’s just a matter of ticking a couple of boxes. He certainly wouldn’t be playing if he wasn’t 100 per cent fit, so he’s got to tick a couple of boxes today … we’re expecting him to be OK but we won’t know that until tomorrow and how he pulls up. All signs are that he’s more than likely to play,” Brown explains.
He says if Shaun plays, the coaching team will have a decision to make about who’s going to play in the halves.
“We were very happy with Kodi’s game the other day, so we’ve got a real decision to make there. All the boys trained the other day and we were sort of working our way through that,” he explains.
“Chanel’s turned himself into a utility player and Kodi’s always been able to fill that role, so it’s probably a conversation when we know Shaun’s definitely playing. We certainly don’t want to be changing combinations and changing people from one side of the field to the other. We’ll work our way through that when we know Shaun’s 100 per cent.”
Back rower Bayley Sironen has been ruled out after a positive COVID-19 test over the weekend. He is self-isolating and expected to return to training next week.
Jack Murchie has been promoted from 18th man.
To buy tickets to Saturday's game at Moreton Daily Stadium (2pm kick-off), head here
1 REECE WALSH
2 ADAM POMPEY
3 JESSE ARTHARS
4 ROCCO BERRY
5 MARCELO MONTOYA
6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
7 KODI NIKORIMA
8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE (c)
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 MATT LODGE
11 EUAN AITKEN
12 ELIESA KATOA
13 JOSH CURRAN
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 BUNTY AFOA
16 AARON PENE
17 JACK MURCHIE
18 TANIELA OTUKOLO
20 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA
21 PRIDE PETTERSON-ROBATI
22 VALINGI KEPU
23 JUNIOR RATUVA
24 SHAUN JOHNSON
25 EDWARD KOSI
Head coach | NATHAN BROWN