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Everyone’s second favourite team, the New Zealand Warriors, will get their campaign back underway on the Central Coast when they ‘host’ the struggling St George Illawarra Dragons. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 3pm (AEDT).
The Warriors have moved heaven and earth to get the NRL season back underway, and as a result, have received an outpouring of support in rugby league circles.
Unfortunately, it’s probably not going to count for very much. The bottom line is they just aren’t very good.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck provides quality, and it’ll be interesting to see how they shape up not having to fly across the ditch each week, but there is a likelihood they will struggle to put results on the board.
That’s before you consider the current injury crisis in the forwards, with Lachlan Burr and rookie Jamayne Taunoa-Brown winning the race to start in the front row by being the last men standing.
David Fusitu’a also misses this game for the Warriors, while Chanel Haris-Tavita has been dropped, with Stephen Kearney seemingly unsure of his best looking team.
Of course, the Warriors have their excuses, but this is one of the games they might consider themselves a chance in, and momentum can do funny things to footy teams.
They are playing a Dragons team who look good on paper but in practice are more like a wet lettuce leaf.
When you can assemble Corey Norman, Ben Hunt, Cameron McInnes, James Graham, Tariq Sims, Korbin Sims, Tyson Frizell and Paul Vaughan in the same team, they shouldn’t be in the wooden spoon discussion, but for the second year in a row, here we are.
The Dragons were average in their first two games – both losing efforts to the Tigers and Panthers – and while they have won 21 out of 29 games against the Warriors, that will count for little unless they can sort their defence out in this one.
If they can’t get that element of their game right, then Tuivasa-Sheck could have a field day, and Red V fans a bad one.
Despite that, they showed enough last year that the break and extra nine weeks for Shane Flanagan to get his hands on the team might be enough to get them firing.
The side have also been put on notice regarding keeping their first grade spots, with names like Jason Saab, Tristan Sailor, Jacob Host, Josh Kerr, Trent Merrin, Tif Lafai and Jackson Ford missing out this week, so that may inspire something.
If the Dragons can have an even share of possession, they should win. I don’t expect this to be a game we will be talking about as a highlight though.
Dragons by 8.
Kick-off: 3pm (AEST)
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
TV: Live, Fox League 502
Online: Live, Foxtel Now, Kayo Sports, NRL Digital Pass,
Betting: Dragons $1.60, Warriors $2.36
Overall record: Played 29, Dragons 21, Warriors 8
Referee: Chris Sutton
New Zealand Warriors
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Patrick Herbert 3. Peta Hiku 4. Gerard Beale 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green 8. Lachlan Burr 9. Wayde Egan 10. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. Tohu Harris 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Karl Lawton 15. King Vuniyayawa 16. Agnatius Paasi 17. Eliesa Katoa 18. Chanel Harris-Tavita 20. Josh Curran 21. Adam Pompey 22. Jack Murchie
St George Illawarra Dragons
1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Brayden Wiliame 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt 8. Korbin Sims 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. James Graham
Interchange: 14. Josh Kerr 15. Blake Lawrie 16. Tyrell Fuimaono 17. Euan Aitken 18. Trent Merrin 19. Adam Clune 20. Jacob Host 21. Jackson Ford