NRL: Warriors welcome Hurrell's return

By Steve Deane

Konrad Hurrell in action for the Warriors earlier this month. Photo / Getty Images
Konrad Hurrell in action for the Warriors earlier this month. Photo / Getty Images

Rookie Warriors sensation Konrad Hurrell will return for Saturday's crucial match against the resurgent Newcastle Knights.

Hurrell missed Friday's gut-wrenching 8-10 defeat to the Broncos with a foot injury. With 12 tries in just 12 matches in his fledgling NRL career, the 20-year-old Tongan's attacking prowess will be welcomed by a Warriors side that failed to convert enough attacking chances in Brisbane.

Although the Warriors will be looking to bounce back from yet another one-that-got-away defeat, the Knights will be in buoyant mood after dispatching reigning premiers Manly 32-6 at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.

Hurrell's return is the only change, with stand-in centre Lewis Brown joining Sione Lousi, Jacob Lillyman, Steve Rapira and Omar Slaimankhel on the bench.

"While it's good to have [Hurrell] back our focus is on the need to keep improving," coach Brian McClennan said.

"We've done well for long periods in a lot of games lately but dropping the two points against the Broncos was really tough to take."

With seven matches to play, the Warriors sit two points out of eighth place on 20 points but only six points separate the eight teams ranked from third to 10th.

Meanwhile, the club has confirmed another re-signing, with the younger Rapira brother Steve inking a one-year extension. Others to sign contract extensions recently include Hurrell (2015), props Ben Matulino (2015) and Lillyman (2014) and centre Ben Henry (2015).

Rapira's retention was another example of the club's commitment to home-grown players, recruitment and development manager Dean Bell said.

"Several years ago we said we were committed to becoming a development club and since then we've seen the benefits of our programme many times over," Bell said.

"We've made huge strides with our policy and now we're reaping the rewards as some of these players develop into senior first-graders ...

"We will always be on the lookout for quality players from overseas but our priority is to develop our own home-grown first-grade footballers.

"We're also committed to developing our own players who have the potential to become marquee players like Shaun Johnson, Kevin Locke, Konrad Hurrell and Matulino."

With Matulino and Lillyman secured until 2015 and 2014, the club has locked in its impressive stable of front rowers.

Sam Rapira and Russell Packer are both signed through to 2014.

KNIGHTS

Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday 7.30pm

Darius Boyd
Kevin Naiqama
Dane Gagai
Timana Tahu
Akuila Uate
Jarrod Mullen
Tyrone Roberts
Zane Tetevano
Danny Buderus (c)
Willie Mason
Chris Houston
Joel Edwards
Neville Costigan

Knights: (from) Robbie Rochow, Zeb Taia, Adam Cuthbertson, Alex McKinnon, Marvin Filipo.

WARRIORS

Kevin Locke
Bill Tupou
Ben Henry
Konrad Hurrell
Manu Vatuvei
James Maloney
Shaun Johnson
Russell Packer
Nathan Friend
Ben Matulino
Feleti Mateo
S Mannering (c)
Elijah Taylor

Warriors: Lewis Brown, Sione Lousi, Jacob Lillyman, Steve Rapira, Omar Slaimankhel.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 30 Jul 2014 17:14:17 Processing Time: 564ms