NRL: Lethal weapon Hurrell misses out

By Michael Brown

Defensive frailties have counted against centre.

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

Konrad Hurrell has his sights set on playing for the Kiwis in this year's Anzac test but his first goal will be to break back into the Warriors' starting lineup.

The blockbusting centre has been left out of the first Warriors side for the season as they take on the Eels in Sydney on Sunday. Carlos Tuimavave has instead been selected at right centre, with Dane Nielsen taking his regular spot at left centre after overcoming a niggling hip injury which saw him miss all three pre-season games as well as the Auckland Nines.

Coach Matt Elliott is an avowed Tuimavave fan, and Hurrell's defensive frailties have counted against him.

On attack, Hurrell is one of the most devastating ball-runners. He's difficult to stop close to the line, his rate of 25 tries in 37 games is one of the best in the NRL, but he can also be exposed on defence and the right edge was a major issue last season.

Hurrell also admitted the club weren't impressed with him when he came back to pre-season training overweight but he had shed the kilos and had a strong half against the Broncos in the final pre-season hitout in Dunedin.

"Carlos stole the march through the Nines and trials," Elliott said. "Against the Broncos, he put two tries on for Glen [Fisiiahi] and scored one himself. Konnie did really well in the half he played. That was a really, really tough call but Carlos has had his nose in front the whole pre-season.

"Sometimes what you have to do is put yourself in the best position to compete for the spot. It's highly competitive ... Jerome Ropati missed out, too, and he's had a really good pre-season. Our centres are on notice."

Tuimavave played three games last season, spending most of the year with the Auckland Vulcans. He grew up playing five-eighth but the Warriors are keen to turn him into a centre and, at 1.85m and 94kg, he has the physical attributes.

It hasn't always been an easy and happy transition and in his eight NRL games since his debut in 2012 he's played three at fullback, three at centre and twice come off the bench.

Elliott has plumped for four debutants. Sam Tomkins, Chad Townsend and Jayson Bukuya were all expected to feature but less obvious was the choice of John Palavi as starting back-rower.

The 21-year-old was on the cusp of making his NRL debut in 2012 when he was 18th man for a game and is into his third full season with the first-grade squad.

Ben Henry is still getting back to full fitness and will turn out for the Vulcans this weekend.

Eels v Warriors
Parramatta, 8.30pm Sunday

- NZ Herald

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