Two of the Warriors' most senior players could be playing reserve grade this week.

Coach Stephen Kearney has named an unchanged team to face the Panthers on Friday, which means no place for Adam Blair and Issac Luke in the 17.

It's not a surprise, as it would have been difficult to justify dropping anyone from the team that got the job done last Saturday, with the 26-18 win over the Dragons probably the best team effort of the season so far.

But it will be a strange sight if it comes to pass, as Blair (297 NRL games, 47 tests) and Luke (260 NRL games, 42 tests) are two of the best players this country has produced and the most experienced NRL players at Mt Smart.


However Blair (33) has struggled for form this season, and was also hampered by a one-game suspension last weekend while 31-year-old Luke has been affected by niggling injuries and a concussion.

The situation is also a reflection of the increasing competition for places at the Warriors, with middle forward Ligi Sao proving his worth with a compelling effort on Saturday, and hookers Nathaniel Roache and Karl Lawton justifying their inclusion ahead of Luke against the Dragons.

It's likely to be a fluid scenario, and the burgeoning depth can only be good for the club.

Of the top 17 named, hooker Roache (back), second rower Tohu Harris (knee) and utility forward Jazz Tevaga (foot) didn't train on Tuesday morning.

Roache left the field late in the match on Saturday, but Kearney said his back injury was not related to the lumbar spine issue which saw him miss the whole of last season.

Harris has been managing a knee complaint since aggravating an old injury in the round seven clash with the Storm. He has only trained on alternate days over the last fortnight, and copped another knock in the Magic Round encounter.

Kearney is confident the trio will feature at Penrith Park, though the short turnaround doesn't help.

The Warriors travel to Penrith on Thursday after putting together an impressive second half against the Dragons, one in which they failed to complete just one set (17 from 18) and ran at 91 per cent for the match (30 from 33 sets).


Though Penrith are badly out of form — last Friday's 30-4 mauling by the Tigers was their fifth loss in a row — they will still be an extremely tough proposition this week. The western Sydney club held crisis meetings earlier this week and will be expected to rebound in a big way. The Panthers have also won seven of the last nine encounters between the two teams.

Warriors team:

1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C)
2 David Fusitu'a
3 Peta Hiku
4 Patrick Herbert
5 Ken Maumalo
6 Kodi Nikorima
7 Blake Green
8 Agnatius Paasi
9 Nathaniel Roache
10 Leeson Ah Mau
11 Isaiah Papali'i
12 Tohu Harris
13 Lachlan Burr


14 Jazz Tevaga
15 Bunty Afoa
16 Ligi Sao
17 Karl Lawton
18 Gerard Beale
20 Chanel Harris-Tavita
22 Issac Luke
23 Adam Blair