Warriors coach Andrew McFadden insists form was the deciding factor in Matt Allwood winning a starting spot ahead of out-of-favour centre Konrad Hurrell for Saturday's NRL clash against Canberra in New Plymouth.
McFadden was forced to defend his decision to opt for Allwood for the Yarrow Stadium clash, despite the fact Hurrell has been unable to win a starting spot all season. A right-side centre, he has made just four appearances off the bench but has not been sighted in first grade since the round six defeat to Manly.
With first-choice left centre Solomone Kata serving a one-match suspension, McFadden says Allwood deserves to hold his place in the top grade after a try-scoring appearance in the round nine win over St George Illawarra and a solid contribution off the bench in last Saturday's 30-18 loss to Penrith.
"Matt's been in pretty good form," said McFadden. "He's been playing really well for our New South Wales Cup team and obviously he got New South Wales Residents selection for that form, and he's a natural left-sided player as well so that made the fit easy.
"Matt playing left side, being in form - he's probably in better form than Konrad - so that was the selection."
The Herald on Sunday this week revealed Hurrell was on the outer at the Warriors and likely to play the rest of the season in the second-tier Intrust Super Premiership unless he leaves the club.
However, McFadden insisted his decision was serving the team's best interests and denied he is done with the 24-year-old Tongan international.
Having made just five NRL appearances since arriving at the Warriors from the Raiders last season, Allwood lacks the game-breaking reputation Hurrell has earned by scoring 41 tries in 71 games since 2012, but McFadden stands by his policy of rewarding in-form players.
"No, there's nothing (personal against Hurrell)," he said. "I don't want this to turn into 'The Konrad Show'.
"Look, we discussed him but we decided this was best for the team. I've made the decision for the team's best interest and that's what we'll go with.
"He's (Allwood) the third best form centre at the club at the moment. He's been given his selection through his form and that will change from time to time.
"So as long as they hold their form they get the job."
Meanwhile, winger Manu Vatuvei continues to work his way through some personal issues amid the fallout to his involvement in the recent prescription pills and energy drinks scandal that contributed to him being granted a week's medical leave.
McFadden acknowledged Vatuvei's mental well-being had been the subject of great concern as he overcomes the toll of recent events and deals with other private matters.
"He is close (to making a return). He's had some other stuff come up more recently which is probably delayed that comeback but he's very close. We've got the bye now so we're just going to manage him over the next couple of weeks so he's fully ready to go."
"It was certainly a concern. There was obviously some reasons around that, both personal and then some things that have happened, and it all just got a bit too much so at the moment we've just got to look after Manu and he's tracking along well.