The Warriors have vowed to take tough action against misbehaving players in an ugly final-round loss to Gold Coast that’s resulted in Matt Lodge copping a $5000 fine from the NRL.
The Easter Sunday clash between the Roosters and the Warriors has been all about the Roosters, the return of Victor Radley, the loss of Luke Keary and the debut of Sam Walker.
Whilst this is a key storyline, there are others that just as intriguing.
Due to teams only playing certain teams twice in a season, this clash is the only one scheduled for the regular season between these two. With Roger Tuivasa-Sheck leaving at the end of the season, this could be the final time he plays the team that he made his name with as well as earning an NRL premiership at in 2013.
Furthermore, there is the head-to-head clash with James Tedesco, which will be something special. Expect a big game from RTS as he looks to continue his fine form and if he runs for anything like the 253 metres he did last week, it should be a very good day for the Warriors.
The battle up front will be another great contest. The Warriors are developing a reputation of a team that will muscle up and will be tested by the benchmark that is the Roosters. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has come in for some criticism this season but still ran for over 100 metres last week. With Angus Crichton, Victor Radley, Isaac Liu and Siosiua Taukeiaho in the pack, the Warriors can’t take them lightly.
It will also be interesting for the Warriors as they got touched up in the first half last week, but came back brilliantly in the second. Obviously the Raiders had injuries, but give the Roosters a lead like that and it will be very difficult to repeat the escape from last week.
Based on current team lists, clearly the Warriors are weak in the centres, and with the experienced Morris brothers, Daniel Tupou and Joseph Manu out wide, expect the Roosters to target the Warriors there. The inexperienced centres Adam Pompey and the man with the best name in rugby league – Marcelo Montoya will need to communicate with their outside and inside men well, as they could be more isolated than Bryce on Married at First Sight if things go badly.
The final area of interest would be in the halves. Whilst the talk has been about the debut of Sam Walker, if things had gone differently his opposite could have been lining up in the Roosters’ iconic number 7 jersey. Sean O’Sullivan made his debut (and only game for the Roosters) there but at the age of 20 was surplus to requirements. Making his club debut for the Warriors last week, he was very solid and more importantly he ran the ball, engaging the defensive line, something the Warriors had been desperate for.
Having been to three clubs now, and a guarantee of eight to ten games with Chanel Harris-Tavita injured, O’Sullivan needs to take this chance.
The five-eighth battle is also interesting and with Drew Hutchinson up against Kodi Nikorima, the Warriors will be feeling very confident. Nikorima was simply outstanding last week, and scored a try reminiscent of Stacey Jones’ effort in the 2002 grand final after having already handled the ball two times in the same play. Nikorima is developing into another ‘little general’ for the Warriors (what would the Broncos give for him now), and if he fires as well it should be a great contest.
The headlines all week have been about the Roosters’ ‘next big thing’ and the potential debut for Joseph Suaalii (not happening), but there are other compelling storylines from this clash. The Roosters deserve to be favourites, but the Warriors will be looking to ruin Walker’s debut.