What’s going on with Curran?
Warriors coach Andrew Webster says Josh Curran will return to the first grade team once he’s sorted out a couple of issues in his game.
Curran played for the Warriors’ reserve team last weekend against the Bears and on Sunday he’ll again run out for the NSW Cup team, when they play the Bulldogs at 1.30pm at Mt Smart Stadium. Also in that team is centre Rocco Berry.
The 23-year-old Curran was one of the Warriors’ best players at the beginning of last season and he was even in contention to make the NSW State of Origin team, with the Blues coach Brad Fittler saying: “You’ve just got to love his attitude. He is a real competitor and that is what you want.”
However, Curran’s form dipped towards the end of last season and under new Warriors coach Andrew Webster he’s struggled to make the starting team.
Earlier in his career, the then Warriors coach Nathan Brown had an honest conversation with Curran
where he questioned whether he wanted to be an NRL player. Curran responded to that meeting by taking his game to another level.
There’s no suggestion from Webster that Curran has slipped back into his old ways, but the current coach says he is looking for certain things from the back rower to improve.
“With Josh Curran, we wanted to put him back to reserve grade and get him some more time and minutes and he did a really good job last week,” Webster said.
“The poor bugger had to make over 50 tackles, so that’s exactly what he needed.
“We’re really glad that they’re going back there with good attitudes and getting better and that’s what we need, we need that strong competition in our side.”
Webster wasn’t critical of Curran’s attitude and although Jackson Ford has played well, Warriors fans at the beginning of the season wouldn’t have expected Curran not to feature in the starting team each week.
“Josh’s form isn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination,” Webster said.
“It’s just that there are a couple of things we want him to work on. He knows that, he’s comfortable with it.
“He wants to be playing NRL, so I love that about him, he wants to be out there playing.
“But he’s like ‘I agree, I need to work on this and I’m happy to go and work on it.’
“I can see a real aggression about the way he’s training at the moment, which is cool.”
Curran has pleaded not guilty to the charge of reckless grievous bodily harm to an incident which happened at a nightclub in Port Macquarie in last October.
The incident was investigated by the NRL’s integrity unit and Curran hasn't fallen under the NRL’s no-fault stand-down policy.
He remains able to play and will appear in Port Macquarie Court on June 26-27.
Meanwhile, Berry is making his way back from a foot injury and once fully fit will join Adam Pompey, Brayden Wiliame and Viliame Vailea in the battle for the centre spots.
“Rocco played his first game back form injury last week, we didn’t want him to play a full game,” Webster said.
“We were going to wait another week with Rocco, he probably needed one, but he wasn’t going to get that practice and rehabilitation he needed at the end of his recovery, so we played him and he played really well.
“He’ll get another opportunity this week in the NSW Cup and will play the full 80 minutes.”
As for other players on the sidelines, the Warriors are taking a cautious approach with the neck injury Mitch Barnett picked up last weekend, Luke Metcalf will be out for another four or five weeks with his hamstring injury, but Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is a chance to play next weekend against the Sharks in Sydney following his calf problem.
Hooker Wayde Egan failed a HIA last weekend against the Cowboys and because of the NRL’s new 11-day stand down rule, he’s not able to play against the Bulldogs, even though Webster says he’s fine.
“Freddy (Lussick) steps up and gets an opportunity,” Webster said.
“He’s had two players’ player [awards] in the NSW Cup, so deserves that right.
“But Wayde health wise, he’s fine. If he was allowed to play he’d be fine to go this week, but we’re happy to wait the week and get him ready for the next one.”
The recent 11-day stand down rule has largely been accepted by players and coaches. However, if players end up missing State of Origin or the grand final because of it, expect a backlash to start.
“The NRL are smarter than I am, so I’m not going to join in that debate. It’s just the way it is, player safety always comes first,” Webster said.
“It is going to be hard with the amount of squad players and teams in the competition, that’s going to be the only challenge, where you’re going to find the players from to constantly keep patching people up.
“I get worried about players missing grand finals, that’s the only thing, but I am supportive.”