Reserve grade preview: Round 1
New Zealand Warriors V Newcastle Knights
Date: Sunday March 5
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Kick-off: 11:45am (AEST)
1.Nick Meaney, 2. Tom Hughes, 3. Brendan Elliot, 4. Chanel Mata'utia, 5. Jacob Gagan, 6. Will Pearsall, 7. Jack Cogger, 8. Sam Mataora, 9. Tyler Randell, 10. Mickey Paea, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Anthony Tupou, 13. Josh King. Interchange: 14. Braden Robson, 15. David Bhana, 16. Pat Mata'utia, 17. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, 18. Faitotoa Faitotoa.
1.Matiu Stone-Dunn, 2. Junior Pauga, 3. Matthew Allwood, 4. Blake Ayshford, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Sam Cook, 7. Mason Lino, 8. James Gavet, 9. Tevin Arona, 10. Toafofoa Sipley, 11. Ofahiki Ogden, 12. King Vuniyayawa, 13. James Bell. Interchange: 14. Reece Charlie, 15. Chris Satae, 16. Patrick Sipley, 17. Daniel Palavi, 18. Semisi Fotu.
The Club's reserve grade side will be stacked with NRL regulars this weekend with the likes of Brendan Elliot, Sam Mataora, Mickey Paea and Tyler Randell all named.
The squad also includes Anthony Tupou, an NRL veteran with 236 NRL games under his belt.
The 34-year-old joined the club late in the pre-season and will be looking to stake his claim for a first grade berth.
Reserve grade coach Simon Woolford believes it’s only a matter of time before he’s pushing for that NRL spot.
“We’re lucky that he’s not quite ready... he needs to get some game time under his belt,” Woolford explained.
“We’ll play him out on the edge and a little bit in the middle.
"He’s a very strong ball runner so he’ll lead by example with his actions and the rest of the team should follow on from that.”
19-year-old Nick Meaney will get first chance at fullback after playing exclusively in the Under 20s last year.
The coach feels the 19-year-old deserves his chance, having played consistently in the trial matches.
“Nick’s had a full pre-season with the NRL squad, he’s shown us enough to suggest he’s ready to play at ISP Cup level and we feel he could do a really good job.”
WHERE IT WILL BE WON
Woolford believes it will depend on control of the ball and playing the game at their own speed that will make all the difference.
“If you turn over the ball you’re in for a long afternoon,” he said.
“If you starve them of possession and make them do more than their fair share of defence then you can have some joy.”
The coach feels it could be scrappy first up and it will take the side a little time to develop solid combinations.
He's demanding strong defence from the get go though.
“I’m expecting our defence to be nice and tight and I’m not planning on giving the Warriors any easy tries,” he said.
“We’ll turn up with a good attitude and hopefully that will mean we’ll put in a good performance and keep them to a minimal score.”