Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Warriors bank on rookie's promise

McFadden sees potential in young Canberra centre adding depth after a working over at Eden Park.

Nine-game apprentice Matt Allwood will continue his career with the Warriors next season. Photo / Getty Images
Nine-game apprentice Matt Allwood will continue his career with the Warriors next season. Photo / Getty Images

He is not the backline marquee signing that fans may have hoped for but the Warriors believe Matt Allwood can add valuable depth to the troublesome centre area.

The Canberra rookie - he has played just nine games for the Raiders - was confirmed yesterday as the latest addition to the Warriors' roster.

Others such as Manly centre Steve Matai had been mentioned as possible targets but the Auckland club have elected to invest in potential.

The 21-year-old Allwood is far from a big name but is rated highly by coach Andrew McFadden. Before he came to the Warriors, McFadden spent four seasons on the Raiders' coaching staff - one as NYC coach, three as NRL assistant coach - and has seen plenty of Allwood.

"He's fast and he is really, really aggressive - he's a tough kid," said McFadden. "We targeted him a few times [in the round nine match at Eden Park] and he came out of the line and put some big hits on Ben Matulino - which is not easy to do.

I like his toughness, he will fit in well with our culture here and add something to our squad."

The centre position has been an on-going headache for the Warriors, with little stability over recent years, and the current roster certainly needs strengthening.

Will Allwood be the solution? He certainly has potential. As a first-year player in a struggling Raiders side it hasn't been easy. Allwood has shown an instant aptitude for the NRL, averaging 70 running metres, 15 tackles and more than two tackle breaks per match.

He was particularly prominent in the Raider's upset win over the Storm in round seven, running for 128m with one line break, one try assist and a try. In the first half of that match, Allwood, who like former Warrior Todd Lowrie hails from the small NSW town of Scone, showed genuine power and pace to bust through Kevin Proctor and Billy Slater on his way to the try line.

Meanwhile, McFadden has again demonstrated his creative thinking at the selection table, with four changes made to the team to face the Gold Coast on Saturday.

After three games in the second row, Ben Matulino returns to the front row with Ben Henry moving from the centres to take Matulino's place in the back row. McFadden says Matulino will keep his "roaming role" and his move back to prop is partly a forced one, with the absence of Sione Lousi and Sam Rapira through injury.

Ngani Laumape returns to the centres from the flank while Kevin Locke (wing) is back in the starting line-up for the first time this year.

Also back in favour is debutant Kiwi hooker Siliva Havili after two appearances with the NSW Cup team.

He's included with prop Suaia Matagi, back rower Feleti Mateo, utility Sebastine Ikahihifo and prop Nathaniel Peteru on a five-man bench. Meanwhile, the injury outlook for Lousi is more positive than first feared and he is expected to be back within a month.

Matt Allwood

NRL career
9 games, 1 try, 21 tackle breaks, 2 line breaks, 70 average running metres, 15 average tackles
Born: November 16, 1992
Height: 185cm
Weight: 93kg
NRL debut: Round one, 2014.

Titans v Warriors
Cbus Super Stadium, 7.30pm Saturday

David Mead
Kalifa Faifai Loa
+William Zillman
Brad Takairangi
Anthony Don
Beau Henry
Albert Kelly
Luke Douglas
Beau Falloon
Luke Bailey
Mark Minichiello
David Taylor
Paul Carter
Titans: Matthew White, Mark Ioane, Ben Ridge, Matt Srama, Cody Nelson.

Sam Tomkins
Kevin Locke
Konrad Hurrell
Ngani Laumape
Manu Vatuvei
Chad Townsend
Shaun Johnson
Jacob Lillyman
Nathan Friend
Ben Matulino
Jayson Bukuya
Ben Henry
+S. Mannering
Warriors: Siliva Havili, Suaia Matagi, Feleti Mateo, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Nathaniel Peteru.

- APNZ

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