2021 pre-season.

Discussion in 'New Zealand Warriors and NZRL' started by Rich102, Nov 22, 2020.

  1. Rich102

    Rich102 Moderator Staff Member

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    Young players markedly outnumbered those with NRL experience in the opening week of the Vodafone Warriors’ preseason campaign.

    On day one prop Bunty Afoa, coming back from knee surgery, and train-and-trial half Jayden Nikorima were the only NRL players on hand with wingers Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu’a joining them before the week was out.

    Around them have been plenty of exciting prospects, most of whom have emerged from the Vodafone Warriors’ development system.

    “There’s some terrific talent coming through and having the chance to train with the NRL squad,” said Vodafone Warriors recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan.

    “A lot of them have a big future in the game and they’ll benefit hugely from this exposure. It’s invaluable for their development.”

    Among the group are middle forward Jyris Glamuzina, hooker Temple Kalepo, winger Edward Kosi and back rower Isaiah Vagana, who have all come through the club’s system playing at Jersey Flegg Cup under-20 level as well as having a brief taste of Canterbury Cup football.

    Another player in the group is Preston Riki, the Sonny Fai Medal winner as the Vodafone Warriors’ 2018 Jersey Flegg player of the year.

    Joining those five players are strapping outside backs Viliami Vailea (18) and Jeremiah Asi (17) who both made a huge impact in the Vodafone Warriors’ truncated S G Ball Cup under-18 campaign early this season. Both have excelled in Auckland’s First XV rugby union competition, Asi with St Peter’s College and Vailea with Aorere College. In his five S G Ball games this year, Asi scored three tries while Vailea had two in three games.

    Also involved are other S G Ball products in 18-year-old middle forwards Leyton Finau and twins Vailingi and Otukinekina Kepu plus outstanding hooker Taniela Otukolo. Otukolo was among the competition’s best players before the season was stopped short, scoring a staggering nine tries in six games.

    Two other players rated as ones to watch are Francis Manuleleua and Zyon Maiu’u. Both have combined rugby league with First XV rugby union, Manuleleua impressing as a big, athletic and skilful first five-eighth with the King's College First XV and powerful back rower Maiu’u with Kelston Boys’ High School.

    https://www.warriors.kiwi/news/2020/11/21/young-prospects-on-show/
     
  2. Rich102

    Rich102 Moderator Staff Member

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    Warriors coach Nathan Brown says the club will take it easy with Jayden Nikorima.

    The former Roosters playmaker is on a train and trial contract with the Warriors, as he hopes to reignite his NRL career which stalled in 2017 when he was sacked for failing a drugs test for the second time.

    The 24-year-old Nikorima, the younger brother of Kodi, returned to New Zealand for the Warriors’ pre-season training and Brown has been impressed with how he has been going.

    However, the path back into the NRL is not straight-forward for him. There are plenty of players ahead of him in the Warriors’ pecking order and it has been a long time since he has played footy at a high level.

    Nikorima was on the books for Redcliffe in the Queensland Cup this year but because of the coronavirus pandemic the season was cancelled.

    “Jayden was an extremely talented player as a kid,” Brown said of the former Junior Kangaroo.

    “I was in England when he was at his height as a young player and he went to the Roosters as a key signing for them but obviously things away from the field did not work out for him.

    “Talking to Jayden now and other people, he has certainly got his life away from footy sorted out.

    “Between us and Redcliffe, we have provided him an opportunity to get his career going again.

    “He is only 24, he is certainly very hungry and he has got talent. The key for everyone, and Jayden included, is not to expect too much too early, because he basically has not played for three years.

    “If he can have a good pre-season with us and then build on the back of that, then where could he get to?”

    At Nikorima’s age, it is too early to write him off but it could take him all of next season to get up to speed.

    “We have seen plenty of middle or later aged players lately come out of the Queensland Cup and in the NRL and carve out good careers, none more than Cody Walker, he did not hit his straps until he was 25, 26,” Brown said.

    “Cody has shown that for players who do not get themselves sorted early in their careers, if they get themselves sorted and knuckle down and train hard, if they have got the talent they can make it.

    “We are quite hopeful with Jayden but we are prepared to be steady and slow with him.

    “He is training well at the moment and he is very keen, so there is no reason why he can’t be a mature aged player who comes back from nowhere and forges a career in the NRL.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/leagu...n-nikorima-back-to-his-best-says-nathan-brown
     
  3. SmashEmBro

    SmashEmBro Juniors

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    I know he's not technically on our books, but jeeze when have we even had two junior kangaroos halves on our books at the same time.

    Do we think either he or Sean are going to push and have a decent crack at first grade next year?
     
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  4. Big Marn

    Big Marn Juniors

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  5. spear tackle

    spear tackle Juniors

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    It possible, one or two injuries during the season and who knows?
     
  6. Rich102

    Rich102 Moderator Staff Member

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    The Warriors have been active in the NRL player market this off-season, making a number of signings to bolster their squad. Christopher Reive looks at how they're likely to impact the team.

    8. Sean O'Sullivan - half

    Barring injury, it's unlikely we see much of O'Sullivan in the 2021 season. Heading into the campaign, O'Sullivan looks set to fight for a spot on the bench opened up by a season-ending injury to hooker Karl Lawton.

    The young half, and son of Warriors recruitment boss Peter O'Sullivan, will serve as a safety net behind Kodi Nikorima and Chanel Harris-Tavita alongside Paul Turner and Hayze Perham, who have both shown an ability to front in other positions at the top level as well.

    O'Sullivan has made nine NRL appearances across three seasons, debuting for the Sydney Roosters in 2018, before joining the Brisbane Broncos in 2019 and 2020.

    7. Junior Ratuva - wing

    Just how soon Ratuva will get his chance at first grade could depend on how new coach Nathan Brown decides to use David Fusitu'a, who started 2020 in the centres. If Brown takes the same route, Ratuva has to be in the conversation to take over the spot on the wing.

    Ratuva arrived in New Zealand from Cuvu College in Fiji to play rugby union for the King's College First XV, where he excelled at lock or flanker. His switch to league immediately resulted in him being groomed as a winger. At 196cm and 110kg, Ratuva has the size to cause some trouble on the edges and has the athletic gifts to add to the package.

    The young Fijian might be a wait-and-see project for the Warriors in 2021, but there's a lot to like about his upside.

    6. Marcelo Montoya - wing/centre

    Like O'Sullivan, Montoya may not get a lot of game time for the Warriors in 2021, injury permitting. However, what he does bring to the team is a wealth of experience and the talent to push the first-choice backline.

    Brown has stressed the importance of squad depth, and a player like Montoya provides exactly that; someone who will test his teammates at training while being more than capable of earning a spot in the centres or on the wing in the match-day squad, or providing injury cover.

    Still just 24 years old, Montoya has featured in more than 50 NRL matches, all for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, and scored 19 tries.

    5. Bayley Sironen – second row


    Sironen is yet to really find himself with an opportunity to make his mark on the game. It's hard to say with any sort of confidence that things will be different for him with the Warriors, but he does bring plenty to the table.

    After playing just five times between the 2017 (Wests Tigers) and 2019 (South Sydney Rabbitohs) seasons, Sironen had 19 appearances for the Rabbitohs in 2020 spread between the second row, centre and a bench role.


    His best asset is his ability with ball in hand. A good ball-runner, he has also shown glimpses of an offloading skillset, though more often takes the safer option of going to ground with the ball.

    Like Montoya, Sironen may not play the biggest role in the match-day squad, but his presence in the group helps to bolster the depth and will push his teammates to fight harder for their spots in the 17.

    4. Ben Murdoch-Masila - utility forward

    Murdoch-Masila's potential and talent have always been clear. The East Auckland-product made a name for himself with the Wests Tigers in the early 2010s, with then-coach referring to him as a "strike weapon".

    Since 2016, the 29-year-old has been playing in the English Super League, where he scored 42 tries in 128 games, spread between the Salford Red Devils and Warrington Wolves.

    He was a star in the Super League, but will that translate in his return to the NRL? It's a big ask to expect a similar level of production in a stronger competition, particularly when he's coming into a squad where he will have to fight for every minute of playing time.

    Murdoch-Masila's best trait could be his ability to play at prop, second row or lock. That versatility could see him be useful piece for the Kiwi side.

    3. Kane Evans - prop
    The Warriors have loaded up in the front row in the off-season in what seems to be a reaction to not only the way the game is played these days, but also to their woes of last season when they had to bring in loan players.

    Evans fits the mould in that enforcer role; someone who will provide a punch in your line and some damaging tackles. He was effective in a bench role for the Parramatta Eels last season, scoring four tries, running for an average of 94m per game and averaging about 20 tackles in less than 30 minutes per game.

    In what turned out to be something of a straight swap with the Eels, who went on to sign former Warriors forward Isaiah Papali'i, Evans shapes up as a key component of the Warriors forward pack and will provide plenty in the way of physicality, energy and go-forward.

    2. Addin Fonua-Blake - prop

    Fonua-Blake has emerged as one of the best powerhouse props in the NRL over the last couple of years in his time with the Manly Sea Eagles.

    At 189cm and 118kg, the Tongan enforcer's game is the ideal one for a prop in the current climate of high-tempo game play. With an emphasis on the importance of strong and mobile forwards, Fonua-Blake is the prototype for what a team could want in a front-rower.

    In 2020, he averaged 167m and almost 30 tackles in 51 minutes per game, and missed just nine of his 393 attempted tackles.

    There is plenty of upside with the signing of Fonua-Blake, who adds to what is now a very formidable Warriors pack, however, he has had his issues with discipline throughout his career – both on and off the pitch. Most recently, he was handed a hefty fine during the 2020 season for a verbal tirade on a referee.

    With that in mind, there's an element of risk to the signing, but one worth taking for what he is capable of.

    1. Euan Aitken - centre

    Euan Aitken was among the competition's top centres in 2020.

    Former interim head coach Todd Payten noted late in the 2020 season that the Warriors needed a strike centre, so it makes sense that they went out and got Aitken.

    In 17 appearances for the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2020, Aitken was the NRL's leading specialist centre for metres gained (2561, an average of 151 metres a game) and post-contact metres (1057), while he ranked behind only Roosters and Kiwis star Joseph Manu as the centre with the most tackle breaks (64).

    Aitken runs with strength and intent, and his ability to get through the line will no doubt create several chances for the Warriors, while he's a terrific tackler, making more than 90 per cent of his attempted tackles in 2020.

    After seeming to have fallen out of favour a number of times in a six-year stint with the Dragons, the 25-year-old joins the Warriors on the back of his best year for some time with the opportunity to make an immediate impact. He could prove to be one of the buys of the season.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/ru...e-2021-nrl-season/ZDRJX3I2HVOROK6UQ5DAQC77RI/
     
  7. Big Marn

    Big Marn Juniors

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    interesting stats on Aitken. The way some people were talking about him after the signing, it sounded like we had bought a dud.
     
  8. JJ

    JJ Referee

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    Aitken has strengths, definitely an upgrade... he has limitations too, guess he’s the flip side of Hiku in many respects
     
  9. Penrose Warrior

    Penrose Warrior First Grade

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    The skinny on Aitken is that he has no interest in passing, is it not?

    Gutted about Lawton, just learned that now.

    And from what I've read, the team are over in Australia now and will be so for the entirety of the competition? That is so brutal. I know families are coming this time, but it's just a massive, massive thing again. Not probably as bad as last year but gee, pulling young kids out of school potentially, not seeing friends and family outside your immediate whanau, just not being able to go about your normal life as we have here in NZ for the past few months.

    Kia kaha boys, full respect here.
     
  10. JJ

    JJ Referee

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    Yep...
     
  11. JJ

    JJ Referee

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  12. Big Marn

    Big Marn Juniors

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    so with Lawton gone for the season, who takes the 30th spot thats up for grabs? Would we be on the market for another player or do we promote from within? Maybe a local NSW hooker since we are over there?
     
  13. jaseg

    jaseg Juniors

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    Did Aaron Booth get a contract for 2021? If not, him. Good hooker in QRL, career derailed by successive injuries, finally seems to have his body right and made his NRL debut last year for the Storm.

    That's if we're even in the market for a hooker. Might just be looking at bringing in one of the young guys they apparently like (Kalepo, Otukolo, Mullaney if he's still around)
     
  14. sup42

    sup42 Juniors

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    Yeah I quite like that Hiku and Aitken are polar opposites regarding relative weakness's. Balance Daniel San and all that.

    Hiku has been interesting to watch. First year, appalling defence, massively improved overall, though just not a naturally defensive center.

    And then there is his rocks and diamonds, Hiku will give away trys, and in the same game, be the winning game breaker.

    He genuinely has amazing attacking skills inside the red zone, and a genuine ball playing center in that regard.

    Aitken is fairly young, aside from hoping he is not going to be the Vanilla Kata.....(the passing thing) I do think he at least offers a side step and some hole running, unlike Mr Kata and his white line blinkered attacking style.

    The Centers are going to be exciting to watch.
     
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  15. Rich102

    Rich102 Moderator Staff Member

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    Warriors new recruit Kane Evans says he can already see the benefits of the team being in camp in Tamworth.

    Unlike the other 15 NRL clubs, the Warriors are once again holed up together in the New South Wales city as they prepare for the start of the new season.

    Players from those other teams have the usual distractions of living in their homes, but the Warriors are back in the resort they were in when the season resumed after the coronavirus break last season.

    With little to do, the players naturally bond together, while for the coaches they have a captive audience.

    So for the likes of Evans, who has joined the Warriors from the Eels and was in the Warriors’ Australian pre Christmas camp, he has been able to slot in quicker than he would have otherwise.

    “The transition for me has been awesome,” Evans said on Wednesday.

    “That’s because I had the two weeks in Kiama and that was just with the Australian based crew.

    “Over those two weeks leading into Christmas, I really got to know everyone well.

    “Then I came here (Tamworth) and met the New Zealand staff and players and I’ve got to know everyone.

    “We’re all bonding as a crew and you fast-forward getting to know everyone. We’re tight-knit and it’s only been a week and a bit.”

    The Warriors will spend a month in Tamworth, before moving to Terrigal on the Central Coast.

    More of the players’ families will reunite when they get to Terrigal, but for now many them are away from their loved ones.

    That’s tough, but for the club it also has benefits as Nathan Brown is able to spend more time working with them.

    “Most teams won’t be able to have all of this time together, so he’s definitely making use of it, with late night video sessions and extra training sessions,” Evans said.

    “So there’s really no excuse for us not to have a good year and go where we want to go.

    “It’s been long days, even though we’re living together, the days seem longer than normal, because we’ve had those late night video sessions.

    “But I’m sure it’s good for us and it will sharpen us up come game time.”

    Evans worked under Brad Arthur at the Eels and prior to that came under the instruction of Trent Robinson at the Roosters. So fair to say Evans knows how a good coach operates and he’s been impressed with his time with Brown so far.

    “It’s only been a week and half that I’ve been with Browny, but I’m definitely loving what we’ve been practicing, especially the shapes we have coming this year on attack,” he said.

    “They’re looking exciting and I can’t wait to pull them off.”

    Evans is one of a number of big forwards the Warriors signed for the upcoming campaign. The 29-year-old said he could have chosen to go to other clubs for this year, but was swayed by what the Warriors are trying to achieve.

    “I had a few offers, but seeing the potential that the Warriors have and being able to give my services to try to better this club, I took it as a challenge and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said.

    “I know it’s going to be something special and the goal is not just for the year coming, it’s to make this club a great club for the next few years.

    “I wanted to be a part of that and play with Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck).

    “The signings we’ve got, like Bayley (Sironen), Addin (Fonua-Blake), along with some the greats like Tohu (Harris) and Leeson (Ah-Mau), it was a no brainer for me.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/leagu...-paying-off-believes-warriors-prop-kane-evans
     
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  16. Matua

    Matua Juniors

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    Taking a look at the new signings, we may as well remove NZ from the Warriors moniker, they can go back to being the DB Auckland Warriors. ;)
     
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  17. Campion

    Campion Juniors

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    I reckon lots would prefer it being back to Auckland anyways! (for different reasons)
     
  18. sup42

    sup42 Juniors

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    I see Phil Gould is having a lot of input with the Warriors already.

    He travels up to Tamworth three days a week to attend training and spend most of the day, sometimes night with the team.

    Sounds like he gave one of his stirring speeches (he is the Donald Trump of the NRL) to the players the other night which by all accounts was very motivating.

    He said he was planning on spending more time with the team when they move closer to Sydney.

    Videos of Gould on FB fully kitted out as a Warrior still take some getting used to.

    All credit too him, at least he is taking his Warrior project seriously and is close to being a full time hands on equivalent of a manager of footballing operations.
     
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  19. SmashEmBro

    SmashEmBro Juniors

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    I’m pretty excited for this year. Just over a month to go til the trials, we’ve got two trials on late Feb plus the All Stars game which should include a few of our boys.

    Dunno, I’m quietly confident of a great start to the year. We got better towards the end of last year, a big preseason in Australia and obviously less travel for the foreseeable future, plus the new recruits and injured/went home guys means we’ll have 8-10 players who are almost all upgrades from last years team.

    really hoping injuries are kind to us this year as it absolutely killed us before the season even started in 2020
     
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  20. JJ

    JJ Referee

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    Where is the Trump thing coming from?

    if we want to compare with politicians (if held one) and I don’t, then his communication skills make Ardern look more Primary School than she is... he’s brilliant imo, obviously tactically he was a genius but he can can inspire and communicate without talking to you like you’re a child (or profoundly stupid)... quite something when his audience is often league players
     
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