David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Warriors to monitor halves pair Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai ahead of Sharks clash

Warriors five-eighth Thomas Leuluai suffered a head-knock and a cut to his forehead in Saturday's win over the Sydney Roosters but is expected to play against Cronulla this weekend. Photo/Getty.
Warriors five-eighth Thomas Leuluai suffered a head-knock and a cut to his forehead in Saturday's win over the Sydney Roosters but is expected to play against Cronulla this weekend. Photo/Getty.

The Warriors are managing the fitness of halves Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai but both are expected to be fit to play in Saturday's NRL clash against Cronulla.

Leuluai suffered a head knock and laceration that forced him from the field in the early stages of Sunday's scrappy 12-10 win over the Sydney Roosters, but has passed the required post-game concussion tests.

Johnson suffered a quad strain while goal-kicking in the round 14 win over Newcastle and was unable to train in the lead-up to the Roosters match until last Saturday's captain's run.

His speed and involvement was affected but he got through the game and produced a moment of brilliance to score the match-winning try 16 minutes from fulltime.

Both players will be monitored throughout the week, but coach Andrew McFadden was confident the pair will be ready to face the Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

"I think both will take their place," said McFadden.

"Thomas has passed all of his concussion tests but we'll just wait and see how he trains today and how he feels and then we'll see if he gets the all-clear.

"Shaun's still a bit sore but we'll wait and see how he goes. He feels better this week than he did last week. We'll just have to monitor that."

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson slips Dylan Napa of the Roosters on his way to the tryline. Photo/NZ Herald.
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson slips Dylan Napa of the Roosters on his way to the tryline. Photo/NZ Herald.

A short-turnaround meant Johnson's training would be limited and hooker Issac Luke will again handle the goal-kicking duties this week if needed.

The Roosters had imposed themselves physically and McFadden believes his side will benefit from a condensed preparation before taking on the competition leaders.

"It probably suits us this week," he said. "Having a lighter week to freshen up is probably good for us.

"We'll have to (manage Johnson) at the moment. It's a short week and he's still a bit sore but we also know that he needs to get out there and train.

"Shaun is our main kicker, so when he feels comfortable and ready, it may be this week but we'll wait and see how he pulls up."

Youngster Ata Hingano has been included on an extended bench and could be in line to make his first grade debut if any problems arise with either Leuluai or Johnson.

The 19-year-old Junior Kiwis halfback has been in strong form at five-eighth for the Warriors reserve grade side and McFadden said it was a good opportunity to give him some experience among the first grade squad.

"He's been playing very well this year," he said. "He's only very young but there's certainly a lot of upside and just bringing him around the team at the moment is a good experience for him.

"We'll see if he gets his chance at some point."

The 10th-placed Warriors are level on the NRL ladder with the eighth-ranked Titans on 16 points and head to Sydney looking to extend their midseason revival with a fourth-straight victory, against the Sharks who are unbeaten at home and on a 10-match winning run.

Sharks v Warriors at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Saturday, 7.30pm

Sharks: Ben Barba, Sosaia Feki, Jack Bird, Gerard Beale, Valentine Holmes, James Maloney, Chad Townsend, Andrew Fifita, Michael Ennis, Sam Tagataese, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen.

Interchange: Ricky Leutele, Chris Heighington, Matt Prior, Jayson Bukuya, Joseph Paulo (one to be omitted).

Warriors: Tuimoala Lolohea, David Fusitua, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Albert Vete, Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering.

Interchange: Nathaniel Roache, Samuel Lisone, Ben Matulino, Charlie Gubb, Ma'afoaeata Hingano, Toafofoa Sipley (two to be omitted).

Referees: Grant Atkins, Matt Noyen.

- NZ Herald

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