Junior Warriors captain Sam Lisone has enjoyed replays of his team's heroics - but usually watches with the commentary muted.

The Auckland team have stormed into the grand final on the back of three successive victories over higher ranked opposition but the Australian-based commentators don't do much to disguise their loyalties.

They invoke all kinds of tired cliches about the Junior Warriors ("can't defend", "hot and cold", "jungle ball") and seem to do zero research into the pronunciation of the players' names.

Solomone Kata's surname has suddenly become the Gulf state Qatar and Lisone receives about four different variations by the enthusiastic Fox Sports men.


"When I watch our games, I put it on mute," laughs Lisone. "Our players seem to get put down a lot. I don't like hearing my team-mates getting put down. And they can't pronounce my name. I think [sometimes] they call me Samson and that's our other front rower's name. They call me that or Li-so-neeeeee. It's kind of funny. "

Unfortunately for the men with the microphone, prop Lisone has been at the centre of the action for the past four weeks. He was at his destructive best against the Roosters in week one and contributed two tries. Lisone carried for more than 200m against the Knights, and somehow got across in the dying minutes to make a crucial try-saving tackle in the corner.

Last week, Lisone contributed 161m, seven tackle breaks and a try, and sparked the last-minute heroics. Receiving the ball from his halfback, he set off on an angled run, beat the opposing centre before putting his winger in the clear. That took them deep into Eels territory before Mason Lino and Tui Lolohea combined for the match-winning try.

"'Expect it - it's coming', I said to our winger before the kickoff. We had to go for it and it was an old John Ackland move. We were confident it would come off."

Lisone came to the Warriors in 2010, having been scouted by former assistant coach Ricky Henry. He played in all 28 Holden Cup games last year and has gone to a new level this season, spending time in reserve grade and being named 18th man for an NRL match.

"I learned a lot from training with guys like Jacob Lillyman, Sam Rapira and Ben Matulino in the pre-season," says Lisone. "Things about the position, taking responsibility, being a leader and what you do without the ball."

Lisone also slimmed down from 116kg to 108kg, giving a great platform for the year. Still only 20, he is earmarked for a big future and is expected to get a taste of first-grade action in 2015. He is also employed by the club, doing a lot of work in the community.

"Stacey Jones came to my school when I was just a kid," says Lisone. "He doesn't remember it but I do. I never forgot that and hope I can inspire some kids now."


Hopefully on future visits, Lisone will be able to display a 2014 Holden Cup winner's medal. The Warriors have great momentum and confidence from their unlikely run but there are reasons to be wary today.

Last week's escape was a miracle but it doesn't disguise the fact they folded badly in the second half, the previous weeks' exertions seeming to take a toll. They can't afford such a lapse today. They also won't be helped by expected temperatures of 30C for their early afternoon (1.50pm local time) kickoff.

"The Broncos are a quality side, there is no doubt about that," says Lisone. "But today is all about what we do. We need to start well and it's all about defence really."