NRL: Hurrell expectations high

By Michael Brown

Young Warrior needs to match the standards he's set against Sharks.

Konrad Hurrell has impressed hugely in the past fortnight. Photo / Richard Robinson
Konrad Hurrell has impressed hugely in the past fortnight. Photo / Richard Robinson

The rehabilitation of Konrad Hurrell takes another step this week with his first start of the season against the Sharks.

The 22-year-old has impressed hugely in the past fortnight in two roles - the first as an impact back-rower coming off the bench, the second covering for the injured and unlucky Jerome Ropati at centre - and on Saturday he will be in familiar territory as starting right centre.

The challenge for him is to maintain the standards he has set in the past two games. He fell woefully short of it in the off-season, when he returned to pre-season training 10kg overweight and was left out of the team for the first two games.

In 68 minutes of action in the 42-18 win over the Wests Tigers in Wellington last weekend he amassed a game-high 182m, three try assists, six tackle breaks, two line breaks and only one missed tackle.

"We're looking for 80 minutes of what he produced in the weekend," Warriors coach Matt Elliott said.

"That's the standard he's set for himself and that's our expectations.

"He's going to have some work to do and has to be ready to respond to that. We know what he can do with the ball but we are more interested in him being a defender that people don't like going near."

The opposite has often been the case in his 39-game NRL career so far and the Warriors' right edge has often been an area to attack for opposition sides, with good success. It's not always about putting on the big hits, but making the important tackles and reading the point of attack - and doing it for 80 minutes.

Glen Fisiiahi was the main beneficiary of Hurrell's excellent form last weekend, becoming the first Warriors player since Joel Moon in 2009 to score four tries in a match.

"You just have to stay around Konrad because you know he's going to attract a few defenders and, when he does that, he's got that offload in his game," Fisiiahi said. "You just have to stay alive [around him]."

The makeup of the Warriors side will become a little clearer tonight when Sione Lousi faces the NRL judiciary - Lousi has accepted a dangerous throw charge but contested the grading.

He faces a three-week ban if his challenge fails and his starting place is likely to be taken by Feleti Mateo.

Second-rower Jayson Bukuya has also picked up a toe injury and Elliott is hopeful he will be fit to play against his old side in his first return to Shark Park since joining the Warriors.

Fullback Kevin Locke will have another scan on his knee today to see how his ACL is responding but Elliott didn't think it would be long before he was fit to return.

- APNZ

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