NRL: Godinet in frame with injuries to hookers

By Steve Deane

First-choice hooker Nathan Friend will miss the tie with a broken jaw. Photo / NZ Herald.
First-choice hooker Nathan Friend will miss the tie with a broken jaw. Photo / NZ Herald.

Late changes appear likely for tonight's match against the high-flying Sharks, with coach Brian McClennan keeping his final Warriors line-up under tight wraps.

With first and second-choice hookers Nathan Friend (broken jaw) and Alehana Mara (broken fibula) both sidelined, the promotion of lively playmaker Pita Godinet into the side appears the most likely move. Godinet was not named in the squad but travelled with the side to Sydney. Lewis Brown will be the primary dummy half. However, bringing Godinet's pace off the bench as the big Sharks pack tires is appealing.

The 24-year-old has made just one appearance this season, deputising for Shaun Johnson against Melbourne in round eight.

"Lewis did a pretty fair job [at hooker]," McClennan said. "He defended pretty well. He is a main guy to go to there. We have got Elijah Taylor who can play in there as well as Pita Godinet."

Wing Manu Vatuvei and centre Konrad Hurrell are the others under a cloud following a short turnaround from Monday's victory over the Panthers. The team's most destructive ball carriers were both held out of training sessions this week with minor knocks.

Sharks captain Paul Gallen is rated a 50-50 chance to play. Gallen underwent a scan on Thursday that revealed he had aggravated a knee injury.

Playmaker Todd Carney, the Sharks' other Origin representative, will play.

With a bye to come next week, the Warriors are desperate to level their season ledger at 7-7 and push inside the top eight. The team are still hurting from the failure to convert a similar chance against the Tigers in round 11 despite a dominant first half.

"Last time before the bye we really lost an opportunity to gather some points and against the Tigers," McClennan said. "They, on the other hand, kept going. We need to grasp the opportunity to play as well as we can."

A classic forward tussle looms.

•Senior league officials believe Mt Smart Stadium is on the way to becoming "a modern day Carlaw Park".

The failures of the Auckland Council and previous stadium operator Auckland Regional Council to provide necessary maintenance and upgrades for the ageing stadium have left it in a dilapidated state.

The need for capital upgrades at the stadium is acknowledged in a council-commissioned report published yesterday.

The report suggests the Warriors should remain based at Mt Smart, however the club has been informed the stadium will not be significantly upgraded. The stadium's capacity had been reduced by 8000 seats to under 20,000, with games that will attract over that number now earmarked for Eden Park.

The city's failure to provide an adequate home for the Warriors has angered league officials.

One senior figure suggested the situation at Mt Smart was beginning to resemble Carlaw Park - the city's traditional league ground until it slid into a state of disrepair and was mothballed for health and safety reasons in 2002.

The fact that $256 million was spent on upgrading Eden Park for the Rugby World Cup has added to the anger in league circles.

- NZ Herald

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