David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: What to do with Konrad Hurrell?

Konrad Hurrell's future on the Warriors interchange bench may be limited. Photo/Getty.
Konrad Hurrell's future on the Warriors interchange bench may be limited. Photo/Getty.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden faces a conundrum of how to get the best out of blockbusting ball-runner Konrad Hurrell, as he weighs up the value of continuing to include him on the interchange bench or giving him more game time in the second tier Intrust Super Premiership.

Ahead of tomorrow's crucial clash against the Canterbury Bulldogs in Wellington, Hurrell has again been included on an extended five-man bench.

But with utility Thomas Leuluai back from injury and offering cover across hooker, lock, and the halves, McFadden has a difficult decision to make around the best make-up of his reserves.

Listen: NRL: The Interchange Podcast - round seven

With Solomone Kata and Blake Ayshford performing well in the centres for the Warriors over the opening six rounds, Hurrell has so far been unable to win a starting berth in his preferred position.

The 24-year-old spent the first three games in reserve grade before eventually winning a bench spot for the round four clash against Newcastle at Mt Smart Stadium.

His role in the last three games has been limited to assisting the forwards in the middle of the park, apart from a 10 minute stint on the left edge when Kata suffered a leg injury late in the match against the Knights.

With limited game time and playing in tight, he has failed to stamp his mark, playing 18 minutes in total against Newcastle, 26 minutes the following week in the extra time win over the Roosters, and just 17 minutes in last week's defeat to Manly.

Chances to shine have been scarce, and seven runs for 75 metres against the Roosters was his most impressive contribution, while against Manly he had just only three touches of the football for 25 metres.

Watch: Andrew McFadden speaks to media ahead of Saturday's clash against Canterbury

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With Hurrell having worked hard through the pre-season to improve his fitness, McFadden is wary of him stagnating on the sideline when he could be honing his game at centre and playing longer minutes in reserve grade until he is required by the NRL side.

"It's probably going to be a limited role," McFadden said of Hurrell's future on the bench.

"I'm not sure how long this is going to last because Konrad needs to be able to play more footy."

Injuries in the outside backs in both the Warriors' final pre-season trial game in Nelson and the round two defeat to Brisbane urged McFadden to include Hurrell among the reserves as insurance, together with three forwards.

But with Leuluai back and looking sprightly in his first outing against the Sea Eagles, Hurrell could be the man to miss out either tomorrow or in the coming weeks.

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"It's always a balance. If you get an injury to an outside back in the first 10 minutes everyone's going what a great decision that is to have Konrad on the bench.

"But you just don't know what circumstances you're going to have and we've worked with Konrad around being a bit more versatile. His primary role is cover for the outside backs and we've had a few opportunities to inject him in the game in the middle."

When asked if he was satisfied with Hurrell's contribution, McFadden acknowledged his value as a damaging runner and was sympathetic to the fact he has been playing out of position.

"Yeah, it's a difficult role to play particularly the role that he's been going on for which is playing in the middle third.

"But you can see what he gives, he's got such a strong carry that he can change the momentum of a game sometimes but it's always a balancing act."

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