NRL: Hurrell back for worried Warriors

By Michael Brown

Konrad Hurrell began training for the season 10kg overweight and has had a spell in the NSW Cup to improve his fitness. Now he is back it is unclear where he will fit into the side. Photo / Getty Images
Konrad Hurrell began training for the season 10kg overweight and has had a spell in the NSW Cup to improve his fitness. Now he is back it is unclear where he will fit into the side. Photo / Getty Images

Two weeks ago Konrad Hurrell wasn't seen as fit enough to play in the NRL but after two disappointing defeats the Warriors need to change something and have offered the blockbusting centre a chance to re-establish himself.

Hurrell has been included on an extended five-man bench to tackle the Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday night and joining him is Sione Lousi, who returns after missing last weekend's 31-12 defeat to the Dragons because of a family bereavement.

Back-rower John Palavi drops out of the starting 13 in place of Feleti Mateo and Manu Vatuvei replaces David Fusitua on the wing, although Fusitua will travel in case Vatuvei fails to recover from illness.

The club were displeased when Hurrell showed up at pre-season training 10kg overweight and hoped a spell in the NSW Cup would help not only improve his fitness but also his attitude.

Coach Matt Elliott has clearly seen enough from him, which is a lot more than he's seen from a lot of his first-grade side.

"I thought he was by far the best player on the field [for the NSW Cup side] in the weekend," Elliott said. "He also showed a lot of energy in his defence and carried the ball 20-something times as well.

"Konnie has worked hard on his fitness, which was the questionmark that put him behind some people. We know what he can do for us and it gives us penetration."

It's unclear yet where Hurrell, who has scored 25 tries in 37 NRL games, fits into the side on Saturday. Jerome Ropati played his first game of the season against the Dragons and did little wrong at right centre - he also scored a try - and left centre Dane Nielsen is well regarded even though he offers little on attack.

The Warriors' problems run deeper than centre. The biggest issue is their mindset and their lack of fight which were sorely missing in their opening two games.

"We need to show up and play with our best mindset and our best mindset is an aggressive one," Elliott said. "We need everyone to step up, from me down."

Never far in the background are doubts about Elliott's ability to get the best out of his players and the coach, who is off contract at the end of the season, is aware of the rumblings.

"It's what you sign up for and I have been doing this for a while. I'm sick of not winning already. I look forward to coming up with a performance that deserves a victory, that's for sure."

The Warriors are also looking forward to the return of five-eighths Thomas Leuluai, who took part in full training yesterday as he returns from the groin injury that wrecked his World Cup.

He won't play against the Cowboys - and the reserve grade side have a bye this weekend - but is targeting a return against the Wests Tigers next weekend in Wellington.

Leuluai had an exceptional second half of the season last year as he adapted to playing in the NRL again after a long stint in the UK and offers aggression on defence, leadership and direction.

New Zealand international Jesse Bromwich has followed Melbourne Storm skipper Cameron Smith in re-signing with the NRL club.

The talented front-rower has committed for a further four years.

Promising youngsters Slade Griffin and Cameron Munster have also agreed to terms for two and three years respectively.

Bromwich, 24, started in the Melbourne under-20s side and was the only Storm player to play every game last year. This season he is scheduled to notch up his 100th first grade appearance.

- APNZ

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