Konrad Hurrell's NRL career took another turn today when he was left out of the side to face the Dragons in Sydney on Saturday.
The centre is one of the most lethal attackers in the NRL, with 27 tries in 39 games, but continues to struggle on defence and has once again been jettisoned to NSW Cup side. Ngani Laumape will shift in from the right wing to play at centre, with David Fusitua taking over on the wing.
"Konrad knows what he has to work on and he'll do that with the New South Wales Cup side,'' Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said. "It's a performance-related matter concerning his defensive effort KPIs. It has been made clear to him what he needs to improve on.''
Hurrell scored a try and made a game-high 157m in the agonising 21-20 defeat to the Bulldogs, as well as five tackle breaks and one linebreak. He also made 12 tackles and missed one.
It was the immeasurables that appear to have cost him a spot this weekend. He seemed to be coming back into favour under former coach Matt Elliott after coming back to pre-season training 10kg overweight and on the outer but McFadden promised to hold players accountable and wasn't scared of taking decisive action.
It means fellow centre Dane Nielsen survives, despite some average performances at left centre and the Bulldogs targeted the Warriors' left edge last weekend.
Jayson Bukuya (two) and Ben Henry (knee) are also recalled to face the Dragons, with Bukuya slotting straight back into the second-row alongside Dominique Peyroux and Simon Mannering shifting into the middle of the park in the No 13 jersey. Ben Matulino has been suspended for two games for a shoulder charge on Bulldogs prop James Graham and Sebastine Ikahihifo sits out the game after being concussed against the Bulldogs.
"Ben has recovered really well and it's great to have him back in the side,'' he said. "Ngani made the most of his opportunities last week and he'll do a great job for us in the centres while we certainly have a high regard for David.
"With Seb, we're taking a conservative approach after he left the field with a head knock on Sunday. We've been monitoring him and he's making good progress.''
It's a shame to lose Matulino, who made a significant impact playing at second-row against the Bulldogs and set up two tries with telling offloads. He picked up a rib cartilage injury in that match, which prevented him from playing in the second half, so probably would have missed the next two weeks anyway but there are hopes he will be available for the Anzac test against Australia on May 2.
The Warriors were dominated by the Dragons when the two sides met in round two, going down 31-12 in a poor effort at Eden Park, and they will need to lift considerably against a side they have struggled the most again. The Dragons have won 17 of the 21 games between the two sides, including the last nine.
"We struggled that day and certainly lost the battle in the middle,'' McFadden remembered of the last match. "I think our forwards, based on last week's game, have set a standard they need to rise to again. I think you will see a lot more aggressive game.''
Warriors side to play the Dragons at WIN Jubilee Oval, Sydney, on Saturday (7.30pm): Sam Tomkins, David Fusitua, Dane Nielsen, Ngani Laumape, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Jacob Lillyman, Dominique Peyroux, Jayson Bukuya, Simon Mannering (c). Interchange: Siliva Havili, Suaia Matagi, Charlie Gubb, Ben Henry, Tuimoala Lolohea.