Two weeks out from the start of the NRL season and the Warriors midfield puzzle once again looms as the most difficult selection conundrum for coach Andrew McFadden to solve.

Saturday's 46-10 trial defeat to St George-Illawarra in Nelson was supposed to showcase the Warriors best available side and provide a pointer to likely round one selections, but the disappointing eight tries to two defeat raises some familiar nagging questions.

Errors and a lack of intensity saw the Warriors battling for field position and unable to contain the Dragons lively and fluid attack, and the new midfield and outside back combinations looked unfamiliar and uncertain on defence.

With most of the big names rested from last week's first trial against Gold Coast, this was our first look at the team operating under the direction of the new-look spine of Issac Luke, Shaun Johnson, Jeff Robson, and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.


Trial form is never a clear gauge - no one will read much into Melbourne's 20-0 loss to Canterbury - and it's understandable all of the Warriors fledging partnerships will take some time to develop but the clock is ticking.

There must be some uncertainty around the centre pairing of Tui Lolohea and Blake Ayshford, where best to play centre-wing option Solomone Kata, and what role Konrad Hurrell will have this season after not being required for the Dragons clash.

It's too early to panic but with no more warm-up matches left to iron out the kinks, a dramatic improvement is needed before the Warriors open their season with two tough away games against Wests Tigers (March 5) and the Brisbane Broncos (March 11).

If Kata is indeed the man for the job on the right wing, and Lolohea and Ayshford hold their spots, it is unclear how Hurrell will fit into the scheme of things, but he looks likely to start the season in NSW Cup.

The thinking may be that Lolohea and Ayshford may offer more stability on defence and provide enough balance on attack throughout the initial stages of the season, and with a few more games under his belt Hurrell could later emerge as a starting contender.

But if Hurrell's replacements fail to prevent points from being scored the reasoning in overlooking his undoubted ability with the ball in hand will become less convincing.

Much has been made of the positive changes and improvements in his attitude, work ethic and fitness over the offseason, but those are non-negotiables and merely the starting point expected of every player.

But after playing the Nines and producing a solid showing in the All Stars match - in which he scored an impressive try using his unique strength and power close to the line - a case could be made for showing some confidence in the 24-year-old early in the campaign.

Otherwise, uncertainty hangs over how long his development will continue and what role he will play at the club, amongst other outside back contenders David Fusitu'a, Jonathan Wright, and Matt Allwood.

McFadden spoke post-match about the ugly result being a timely wake-up call and he will hope his troops can quickly absorb the lessons and find some much needed answers to some old problems.