It's difficult to find much sympathy for Konrad Hurrell at the moment. The prevailing opinion is that he has wasted his talent, has had one too many lapses in judgement and is more trouble than he is worth.
That's an easy view to hold but it still feels like Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has missed an opportunity in not picking Hurrell this week against the Raiders, with Solomone Kata suspended for one week.
Firstly, Hurrell has an incredible record against Canberra - just the sight of Jarrod Crocker seems to bring out something special in him. The 24-year-old has more linebreaks (seven) and more tackle busts (28) against the Green Machine than any other team, and has averaged 120 metres across six matches.
Secondly, Hurrell has plenty to prove - so why not unleash him? He made be on his way out the door, but the first priority is to win football matches and Hurrell would be a handy weapon on Saturday. Hurrell came through pre-season in best ever shape but has yet to get any time in his preferred position this year.
It's fine to say he still needs to work on things in the NSW Cup, but that's a bit like teaching someone to drive in a carpark. At some stage you need to take the plunge.
Thirdly, it was a chance to see - once and for all - if he still has something to offer the Warriors, but more importantly, it was an opportunity to remind potential suitors of his abilities. If, as it seems, the club is currently trying to offload Hurrell, Managing Director Jim Doyle will have a tough job trying to convince another franchise to pick up most (or all) of his relatively high wages. It's like trying to sell a car without offering a test drive. If Hurrell performed in New Plymouth, it might make a business deal that much easier over the next few weeks.
Fourthly, it's hard to see how Matthew Allwood is a substantially better solution. In his only substantial season of NRL (2014) he averaged just over three missed tackles per game for the Raiders. Hurrell might be viewed as a defensive liability but his numbers over the last two years have been 1.7 and 1.5 misses per match. And even solid players like Johnathan Wright and Blake Ayshford have had unfortunate defensive moments this year.
And whatever happens, Kata will be back in the team next week, given his consistent form since his debut in round one of last year. So McFadden had an easy out clause, if he needed to dump Hurrell again.
Of course, maybe there is more than meets the eye. Maybe Hurrell's conduct around the club and at training continues to be below par, at a level that can't be rewarded with a first grade spot. Maybe his fitness and physical tests still aren't up to scratch, and there is a feeling that he wouldn't be able to get through 80 minutes of a first grade coach. Time will tell.
Debate on this article is now closed.