NRL: Nielsen plays it safe with a bare head just in case

By Michael Brown

Dane Nielsen. Photo / NZ Herald
Dane Nielsen. Photo / NZ Herald

Dane Nielsen doesn't consider himself particularly superstitious, but the Warriors have gone on a winning run since he dispensed with his headgear and it will stay off for the time being.

The 27-year-old has worn headgear for some time but felt something had to change as the Warriors struggled for wins in the early stages of their season. They have since won their last four games to emerge as playoff contenders and on Sunday will seek a fifth straight win against Brisbane at Mt Smart Stadium.

The Warriors famously grew beards in 2008 as they went on a terrific winning run that finally ended one game short of the grand final, but Nielsen tried the individual approach this time around.

"I changed my jocks, I changed my headgear, I changed everything," the centre said.

"Last year at Melbourne I remember growing my beard after a few defeats but things turned around and we won the grand final.

It probably has nothing and I don't really have any superstitions but it's something that plays on your mind.

"The headgear is off and it will stay off. I don't know what else I can do."

In reality, the Warriors' run has nothing to do with Nielsen's headgear and everything to do with attitude. They have adopted the right mindset since their heavy defeat to Penrith and are keen to keep the run going.

On Sunday, they will face a determined Broncos side who will still remember what the Warriors did to them in Brisbane three weeks ago when they conceded 50 points for the first time in Queensland.

That day the Broncos were missing their four State of Origin players as well as a couple of others through injury, and all four plus Ben Hannant should be available on Sunday.

"Regardless of who they have or don't have, it's going to be one of our toughest games of the year," Warriors coach Matt Elliott predicted.

"We won't be playing a side remotely like the one we played in Brisbane and I would dare say their mentality they will be bringing with them will be pretty focused."

Glen Fisiiahi, who has scored four tries in the Warriors' last three games, has again been named at fullback to face Brisbane.

Elliott yesterday named the same 17 players used in the 23-12 win over the Sydney Roosters on June 16 with fullback Kevin Locke and prop Suaia Matagi added on a six-man bench.

Locke is back in the frame after recovering from the hip flexor injury which ruled him out of the wins over Manly and the Roosters while Matagi stays in the mix after being included in the initial squad last time.

While Ben Matulino has been named in jersey No 10 and Russell Packer on the bench in No 14, it's still anticipated Packer will start as he has done recently alongside fellow front rower Sam Rapira.

The formula has served the Warriors well with Matulino and Jacob Lillyman making a huge impact off the bench.

- NZ Herald

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