NRL Game of the week: Warriors v Roosters

The Roosters handed the Warriors a 26-8 defeat in round five. Photo / Getty Images
The Roosters handed the Warriors a 26-8 defeat in round five. Photo / Getty Images

1. Game of the week

Warriors v Roosters
Mt Smart
7.30pm, tomorrow

Much attention will be focused on Manly's visit to Brisbane but we can't go past this chance for revenge. The 26-8 loss in round five was one of the worst displays of the season as the Roosters forwards were all over their opposites. The Warriors have since rediscovered their defensive structures and look a completely different side.

Shutting down the second-phase play of the visitors will be crucial; the Australian commentators wax on about the Warriors' 'basketball' style but the boys from Bondi are the offload kings with 128 (second only to Cronulla) this year while the Warriors have managed 83 (12th best). Shaun Johnson and James Maloney will again be keys on attack, as the halves duo have combined for 15 try assists, second only to the Storm's Cooper Cronk and Gareth Widdup (22).

2. Great Dane

It always pays to be a little wary when the Warriors trumpet a new signing (Denan Kemp, Matt Jobson, Mark Robinson and Jeremy Latimore were also highly touted) but Dane Nielsen seems the real deal. A player on the rise, he offers defensive solidity along with a true try-scoring instinct.

His arrival will create a welcome log jam in the centres, though perhaps Ben Henry will move into the pack to cover the departures of Micheal Luck and Lewis Brown. And if Simon Mannering is angling for a new fishing buddy, he could do worse than invite Nielsen. According to the Storm's media guide, he "loves to fish and wants to make a career out of it after the NRL".

3. Trying for a penalty

After nine rounds of the NRL, one team is still to kick a single penalty goal. Yup, it's the Warriors. They have been behind and chasing points in many of their matches but it is still a staggering statistic.

The Bulldogs, Raiders and Panthers have just one two-pointer each to their names as tries are the only currency that matters. Meanwhile, in 'Super' rugby, the Crusaders whacked over eight penalties in a single match and games still seem regularly decided by a referee's interpretation of one of 1600 possible infringements at the scrum, lineout or breakdown.

4. They said it
"I wanted to begin by saying I'm not here to pretty up something that's not pretty, because the reality is you can't. It has been the worst start in 50 or so years, and frankly some of our performances have been totally unacceptable."

Steve Kearney cuts to the chase at the AGM.

"We have a long-term vision to build this club into one that consistently challenges for a top-four position each and every year, and while it may be difficult to see at this current point in time, we're confident the structure we have in place will reap dividends." Parramatta chief executive Bob Bentley. Bob, most Eels fans would be happy to see their team challenging for a bottom-four position.

5. Eels embarassment

Surely one of the more bizarre sights of the season so far. Stephen Kearney, flanked by his entire squad, on stage at the embattled club's AGM last week taking questions from the floor.

What did they expect the fans and members to say? Was being grilled and berated by a few hundred fans really the best use of Kearney's time ahead of their trip to Canberra? At least Kearney hasn't lost his sense of humour; after being lectured by an irate fan on how the team should play, he quipped: "Are you Jason Taylor?"

6. Blue day

You know it's State of Origin time when speculation starts to mount on the make-up of the NSW team, with seemingly hundreds in contention.

While Queensland stick with the same core of players year on year, the Blues often get overwhelmed by their greater options. Ricky Stuart has already indicated they are likely to pick Michael Jennings from Penrith reserve grade, while Jarryd 'tackling-ruins-my-hair' Hayne is also likely to be included.

- NZ Herald

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