Returning forward Adam Blair says the Warriors are wary of the unknown going into tomorrow night's NRL clash against the Panthers in western Sydney.

The 32-year-old former Kiwis captain will start at lock after serving a two-week suspension for a dangerous tackle on North Queensland wing Kyle Feldt in their round 15 win over the Cowboys in Townsville.

His return is timely given the Warriors are missing injured forwards Bunty Afoa and Tohu Harris, while the Panthers are also understrength with halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney and backline utility Tyrone Peachey in camp with the New South Wales State of Origin team.

The home side are relying on one game rookie and former Junior Kiwis captain Jarome Luai to steer the ship alongside five-eighth Tyrone May, who will make his first appearance after impressing in nine outings in his debut season last year.


The Warriors are looking to avoid consecutive defeats for the first time this season following last week's agonising loss to Cronulla, but Blair says it's difficult to know what to expect from the inexperienced Panthers.

"Everyone knows they're going to be without some players but it brings a little bit of danger because they bring in some youth who have a lot of energy and play a carefree style of football," said Blair. "They've got a quality side and they've been together for the last three years so they're building something really special there and they've been consistent so it's going to be a tough game."

The Warriors might be meeting the Panthers at the right time but the home side will be desperate to atone for consecutive defeats to the Sea Eagles and Roosters and put to bed persistent rumours of discontent and speculation regarding coach Anthony Griffin's future.

Polishing up on the fundamentals has been a focus for the Warriors throughout the week after unforced errors hurt their attempts to get out of their own half against the Sharks.

"For us it's about going over there and matching them and going better than them with our energy and enthusiasm," Blair said. "Completing sets is going to be important and playing the brand of footy that we want to play and making sure we build pressure on them to hopefully come away with a good result."

Coach Stephen Kearney agreed ball security was important but denied his players needed to be fixated on completions, believing better attention to detail would see a reduction in individual mistakes.

"We don't really focus on completion rate, we focus on executing our skill," said Kearney.

"There were areas of our game where we didn't execute that as well and holding on to the footy or making errors at certain times of the game, in important moments, was one of them. So that's our focus really, making sure we execute our skill."


Blair's enforced holiday has left him refreshed after he enjoyed the opportunity to take his young family up to visit his home town of Whangarei.

"My grandparents live there so I got to sit down and have a cup of tea and enjoy a biscuit and chat with them," he said.

"I took my two kids back there and let them run around the house and enjoy my grandparents. They're getting a lot older now so it's nice for them to have interaction with the boys.

"My wife's been up there a few of times but to be able to show Jess around Whangarei was nice.

"I'm really excited to be back. It's hard sitting on the sidelines and it's harder training away from the squad so I'm really excited to go again."

Panthers v Warriors at Panthers Stadium, Friday, 9.55pm
Panthers: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Christian Crichton 3. Waqa Blake 4. Dean Whare 5. Tyrone Phillips 6. Tyrone May 7. Jarome Luai 8. Trent Merrin 9. Sione Katoa 10. James Tamou 11.Viliame Kikau 12. Isaah Yeo 13. James Fisher-Harris
Interchange: 14. Wayde Egan 15. Corey Harawera Naera 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Moses Leota 18. Caleb Aekins 19. Kaide Ellis 20. Liam Martin 21. Corey Waddell

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c) 2. David Fusitu'a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Blake Green 7. Shaun Johnson 8. James Gavet 9. Issac Luke 10. Agnatius Paasi 11. Isaiah Papali'i 12. Simon Mannering 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Chris Satae 16. Ligi Sao 17.Gerard Beale 18. Joseph Vuna 20. Karl Lawton 21. Sam Lisone 22. Mason Lino

Referees: Ben Cummins, Chris Sutton

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