Saturday, February 27, 2010

Warriors draw 16 all with Manly in final trial match at North Harbour

Well the Warriors have managed a 16 all draw with Manly in their final trial match tonight in great conditions at North Harbour Stadium.

Tate managed 45 minutes in total game time - a 22m and a 23m stint.

WadeMac came on at halftime at fullback replacing Hohaia who started at number 1.

The Warriors trailed 16-10 for much of the second half (those 10 points coming from tries to Vatuvei and Moon) and withstood sustained pressure from Manly, preventing them from scoring in the final 40 minutes. The Warriors then managed to come back with a try late on to new signing Jeremy Latimore under the posts. The try was converted to lock the scores at 16 and that was how the game ended. Of course in a real NRL game - there would have been golden point overtime to try and decide the game.

But a draw is a good result against a serious Manly side as the Warriors continue to build towards round 1. It looks like only Mannering, Henderson and Price remain doubtful as round 1 starters.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tate and McKinnon will play in trial match

Well after going through the motions with the team listed earlier in the week ommitting Tate and McKinnon, today its become clear that both will play and maybe start in the trial match vs Manly tonight.

Both present problems however in figuring how they will slot into the team named below. I figure one of Moon or Maloney goes to the bench and then Tate plays Centre. Then its a toss up as to whether Cleary starts McKinnon or Hohaia at fullback. If he goes for WadeMac then Hohaia could play some time at 6 - or he could just return to his faithful role as utility back substitute. Not his best role mind you - but one he has done plenty of before.

Great weather in the Auckland area at the moment so should be good conditions for the match at 5pm tonight. The game will be a full 40 minutes per half affair rather than the "summer heat" trial match format where there are four 20 minute quarters. Manly have said they are going to play a strong side - so this game should be a good measuring stick of where the Warriors are actually at as they look towards round 1.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cleary names strong side for final Manly trial match

Well Cleary has now released his team for the Manly trial match and its not that dissimilar from the guess best set out in the post below but still has some differences at centre. Basically because Tate is still not fit to play he doesn't even make the bench in the official squad list. However Cleary says while Brent Tate hasn’t been named in the squad it’s possible he will come into the line-up for his first outing since his second major knee injury in three seasons. So we will have to wait until game time to see if he really does lace up on Saturday. Mannering and WadeMc won't appear until round 1.


3 JOEL MOON - not Tate
6 JAMES MALONEY - not Moon - who is playing centre because Tate is still injured

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Injury worries

The Warriors are training this week towards their final trial match at North Harbour Stadium vs Manly. Cleary says he is going to field his best side against Manly - subject to fitness. Tickets for the trail are available from Ticketek and it will cost $15 for an adult. Through My Ticketek there is also a buy 3 get 2 free deal - so you can get 5 tickets for a total of $45 - thats only $9 each. Bummer about the match being at North Harbour through - what a hassle to get to the stadium! There are public transport options available but they will require alot of patience.

Lots of interesting selection choices to be made to find the best possible team out of the available players, particularly around the fullback area. Lets review the injured players to start:

Wade McKinnon (fullback) - ankle injury picked up during training for the last trial match in Cairns - apparently not serious but won't play this week - hopes to be fit for round 1
Steve Price- (prop) - still nursing "complications" following off-season heel surgery - no hope of a return any time in the imminent future
Mannering - (centre/2nd row/captain) - hamstring injury incurred in off-season sprint training - should be fit for round 1
Ian Henderson - (hooker) - knee strain - likely to be out until at least round three
Brent Tate - (centre) - recovering from knee reconstruction - probable against Manly in Saturday's trial match

Vautvei will be fit and available after completing his All-Star commitments.

So who do we have in the guess best 13 to play Manly taking into account of the injury situation.
1 - Fullback - Hohaia
2 - Right Wing - Locke
3 - Right Centre - Tate
4 - Left Centre - Ropati / Ah Van
5 - Left Wing - Vatuvei / Tupou
6 - Stand off - Moon
7 - Half Back - Seymour
8 - Prop - R. Packer
9 - Hooker - Heremia
10 - Prop - Rapira
11 - second row - Matulino
12 - second row - Brown
13 - loose/lock forward - Luck

There is of course the substitute bench - and quite a lot of rotation could be possible - throughout the squad.

Taking a look at Manly they have named a strong side to play in the trial this Saturday. Clearys official team sheet should be out later in the day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Warriors beat Cowboys in monsoon conditions for second 2010 trial match win

Another great trial win for the Warriors this week, beating the Cowboys 28-6 in Cairns in monsoon conditions. The Cowboys did not seem to be able to deliver much on attack in the wet and the Warriors scored three tries late on to blow the score out a bit. Headline of the game - "Cowboys hung out to dry in wet paddock". The Warriors were still not able to field their strongest line up with Price, Tate, WadeMc, Mannering and Vatuvei playing no part in the game.

However an encouraging result- although as always lets exercise caution in reading too much into these trial results. They are meaningless games where coaches experiment - and don't typically field their strongest teams or play to win at all costs. In particular the Cowboys did not play their star playmaker Jonathan Thurston.

Some of the media coverage of the trial match has focussed on big Willie Mason's first appearance for the Cowboys however it seems to have been a bit of a non-event. In fact Mason made only a cameo appearance in the first grade trial after also playing for the Cowboys reserve grade side in the curtain raiser (and having to travel to Cairns by bus after the first grade team had flown in - boo hoo).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Warriors win big in Rotorua trial

Well sorry guys I have not made it to Roto tonight for the trial. So no first hand info this time I am afraid. But, as Seymour would say, next time will be different.

On the plus side after putting the team through what Cleary has called their most rigorous off-season training program ever, the Warriors have won strongly, beating the Roosters 26-8.

The Herald managed a big feature on the Warriors halves options today. Worth a look at the graphic on the actual hard copy of the paper if you haven't seen this Saturdays (13 Feb) paper yet - its page B18. Basically it looks like Seymour as first choice and then a question of who will pair with him out of Isaac John (21), Joel Moon (21), James Maloney (23) and Shaun Johnson (19). The young guys all looking promising but it looks like Moon and Seymour will be the starting combo.

With that in mind lets not forget about Seymour's past troubles with alcohol and while I am in no doubt that he has the talent to be the playmaker he has to stay on the wagon. So any info or photos or spottings of Seymour on the town or in bars or hotels would be worth letting us all know about. I don't want to be too hard on Seymour, we all like a drink and he had a good game in the trial today apparently - his first game for the Warriors and his first top flight outing for eight months or so.

On the captaincy front in the absence of Mannering - Seymour actually captained the side in tonights trial on debut for the club. An interesting development and something we could see more of. While injured Mannering has been doing referee training courses to better understand how to hassle referees in his anticipated new role as captain. If Seymour emerges as a real captaincy option whilst Mannering and Price remain injured - are we going to have another round of the captaincy drama?

Alot of new exciting talent emerging at the Warriors this year and that could be the story of the season. In particular - outside of the young halves already mentioned - there is the development of Locke to watch. Also the new Vatuvei apparently in the form of the 19 year old Elijah Niko. This guy has a younger brother Kenny thats 106kg and wants to play second row. Um, thats big, and thats his younger bro.

Of course no Price or Tate in the trial either. They are on the mend but are not back yet. Interesting article also from the Herald re the Warriors being "fitter than they look". Weird title and a weird concept generally. Basically the idea is that it looks like all the stars are injured but that in fact its not that bad. Hmmm not sure I feel so confident. Price won't play round 1 - he's got an infection after off-season heel surgery. He is also 100 years old. Tate is coming off his second knee reconstruction in 3 seasons but will theoretically play at least one pre-season game and feels like he owes the Warriors a decent season. And Mannering should also be back soon. So I guess its not all that bad, but I would feel a lot better if these three were all match fit, training at full tilt and ready to run out in round 1.

The inaugural NRL All Star game was last night as well. I didn't actually watch the game but the Indigenous all stars won 16-12. I like the idea of an All-Star game but am not sure about the format. I guess they are trying to retain a distinction between this and what is the real All-Star competition - State of Origin. The worlds most elite rugby league competition.