NRL: Hurrell wants to keep calm after the Storm

By Michael Brown

Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images
Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images

If there's one motivational mantra Warriors' centre Konrad Hurrell might consider adopting against the Broncos on Monday, it could be the British wartime one of keep calm and carry on.

The 21-year-old was dropped to the Auckland Vulcans four weeks ago after a series of disappointing outings. What he did on attack was generally good, and he scored tries in three consecutive games, but the number of dropped balls and defensive misreads was proving too costly.

Hurrell comes across as a player who will always have issues with his handling and on defence, in much the same way Manu Vatuvei has struggled at times throughout his career, but it's a case of whether he can minimise that and ensure the good outweighs the bad.

Handling and reading a game are difficult skills to learn and centre is a crucial position in rugby league. But he is such a powerful runner, and causes difficulties for some of the best defenders in the game, he's seen as a player worth persevering with.

Fitness is clearly an issue, and that has an influence on the decisions he makes. He's apparently lost about 3kg since being dropped to the Vulcans and has spent time with fitness trainer Ruben Wiki on various aspects of the game on and off the field.

"I just think I need to stay calm on the field," he said. "When I get frustrated, that's when things happen. I have been trying to learn off guys like Ruben, what to do when it comes to different stages in games. I just need to hold onto the ball and stay calm.

"Sometimes in the game I get fatigued and don't know what to do. It's mental stuff. I need to be professional and hard on myself when I get fatigued. I have been in the game two years now so I should know what to do."

Hurrell made an immediate impact in rugby league when he was signed by the Warriors fresh out of schoolboy rugby. It was the first time he played rugby league and he seemed a natural, scoring 22 tries in 21 games for the under-20s in 2011.

Last year in his first season of NRL he scored 12 tries in 17 games but concerns emerged about his handling and defence. New coach Matt Elliott spoke earlier this season about retaining Hurrell in the first-grade side because he would learn more playing at the top level but was forced to drop him after a substandard performance against the Storm.

"Konnie's challenge isn't what he's capable of doing, it's doing it on a consistent basis from week to week and during games," Elliott said. "And that's about learning about professionalism, which all young players have to do."

Centre continues to be a problem area for the Warriors. Hurrell, Dane Nielsen, Ngani Laumape, Jerome Ropati, Ben Henry, Carlos Tuimavave and Simon Mannering have all been used there at various times this season and Elliott has returned to the pairing he started with of Hurrell and Nielsen.

The coach admitted Laumape came close to getting the nod for Monday, with Hurrell's greater experience the main factor. Hurrell knows it's a chance he needs to take but there's a danger he might try too hard.

"I'm pretty happy to be back in the side," said Hurrell, who admitted it was hard watching the likes of Tuimavave being given a chance in his position. "I deserved to get dropped with the way I performed in the last few games. It was pretty hard and I was pretty down on myself. I knew I could be in the team but it was a lack of commitment. I had to train hard over the last few weeks to prove to the coach I should be in the team.

"I don't want to let the boys down during the game. I just have to have faith in myself and play well."

- APNZ

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