David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Warriors' bitter defeat to Melbourne Storm provided Shaun Johnson with valuable lesson, says coach Andrew McFadden

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden backed his players to close the game out in last week's loss to Melbourne Storm. Photo/Getty.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden backed his players to close the game out in last week's loss to Melbourne Storm. Photo/Getty.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has admitted he chose not to instruct his players to kick a field goal in last week's match against Melbourne but believes the bitter defeat provided Shaun Johnson with a valuable lesson in game awareness.

McFadden made the stunning admission that he opted against ordering his five-eighth to go for a field goal to break the 14-14 deadlock late in the game, before Storm halfback Cooper Cronk booted a one-pointer. A late Marika Koroibete try sealed the Warriors' fate.

McFadden says the cruel nature of the loss provided a harsh lesson Johnson and his team-mates needed to absorb.

"I left it up to the players," McFadden told Newstalk ZB ahead of Easter Monday's crucial game against the Knights at Mt Smart Stadium. "I thought it (a field goal) would be in the forefront of their mind but I didn't send the message down.

"I thought about it, but I thought, 'I'm going to go with the players here', and they missed it. I think it's a valuable lesson that they learned there so I'm not entirely disappointed by it, to be honest."

A clear directive from the coach's box to go for the field goal may have seen the Warriors snatch the lead in the closing stages of the game, but McFadden preferred to trust his players to produce the right play.

It's a surprising decision from a coach under considerable pressure and whose team last week equaled the club's worst losing streak of 11-straight defeats. They last tasted victory on July 12 last year.

McFadden believes the bitter defeat to Melbourne provided Shaun Johnson with a valuable lesson in game awareness. Photo/Getty.
McFadden believes the bitter defeat to Melbourne provided Shaun Johnson with a valuable lesson in game awareness. Photo/Getty.

But McFadden insists only by playing through that situation would Johnson realise the benefit of taking the one-pointer rather than backing their attack to find a way through the Storm's highly organised defence.

"If I had sent the message down, 'go for the field goal', then maybe it's not going to really help Shaun develop that real game awareness," he said. "So I left it up to them and we probably missed an opportunity. But that's something I know they're going to really learn from. It's a big lesson for Shaun."

The Warriors will attempt to secure their first win of the season and will do it with Konrad Hurrell on the bench. The mercurial talent could make an impact playing in the forwards, in the same way Matt Elliott employed him in a game in 2013.

Radio Sport's Matt Brown talks to Warriors assistant coach Andrew Webster:

"Konrad could find himself anywhere in the outside backs," Webster told Radio Sport. "It gives us a little flexibility with Tui Lolohea. If Konrad were to go on, Tui could jump up somewhere else on the field, but we might even have to give him a crack in the forwards if need be.

"We've got a plan around injury, with Konrad, but not necessarily like we do with our other forwards.

"With Konrad, we're not sure yet. We're just excited to have Konrad on our bench and if he gets the opportunity we know he's ready to go."

Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tuimoala Lolohea, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Jonathan Wright, Shaun Johnson, Jeff Robson, Jacob Lillyman, Jazz Tevaga, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman (c), Simon Mannering.

Interchange: Charlie Gubb, Sam Lisone, Konrad Hurrell, Albert Vete.

Knights: Dane Gagai, Nathan Ross, Sione Mata'utia, Pat Mata'utia, Cory Denniss, Jarrod Mullen, Trent Hodkinson, Sam Mataora, Tyler Randell, Korbin Sims, Jacob Saifiti, Robbie Rochow, Jeremy Smith.

Interchange: Danny Levi, Mickey Paea, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Pauli Pauli.

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 27 May 2017 09:45:19 Processing Time: 448ms