Club’s use of deceptive forwards will be tested in clash with master.

The Warriors have enjoyed some success using their front-rowers at first receiver but that tactic will come under the spotlight tonight when they take on a Canterbury Bulldogs side who have mastered the art of using multi-skilled prop James Graham as a second halfback.

Since coach Des Hasler arrived at Belmore in 2012, the Bulldogs have deviated from normal attacking structures by spreading the ball through the hands of their forwards in the middle of the field in an effort to isolate and confuse defenders.

Graham can often be sighted one off the ruck where he has three options of either carting the ball forward, shifting it on to another member of the pack, or using that runner as a decoy and playing out the back to five-eighth Josh Reynolds or halfback Moses Mbye.

The Warriors have also been employing the tactic at different stages of games so far this season, with props Ben Matulino, Charlie Gubb and Sam Lisone particularly adept at tipping the ball on to a forward runner, or finding halfback Shaun Johnson behind a decoy runner with a second-man play.


"The Bulldogs are really well known for it because they do it so well," said Gubb.

"It just takes the pressure off the halves and keeps the defence guessing and it's something that we do a lot of work on as well.

"They think we're going to take a hit-up or tip it on to another prop. But even if there's a small defender in front of the other prop you can just pass it to him and he's got a 50-50 chance of going over the top of him.

"But it just stops the defensive line from rushing up as well because they have to be accountable for us."

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden explained the tactic was the result of a pre-season focus on developing the skills of the forwards.

It is best employed on front-foot ball as they get to or near the halfway line, such as Matulino's pass to Johnson for his second-half try against Wests Tigers in round one.

11 Apr, 2016 10:30am
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However, it has also paid dividends close to the try line, with Gubb passing it off for Matulino to barge over and score a vital try against the Knights in round four.

"It's a strategy that a lot of teams use," McFadden said.

"We've obviously got a lot of skillful and mobile forwards so it's not just about passing all the time, but its bringing that deception and getting our halves doing what they're really strong at, which is running.

"We like to get our halves with the ball in their hands earlier sometimes. It's just a balance we've got to get.

"We've got some guys that are probably stronger at it than others but ... they've all got to be able to pass.

"We've spent a lot of time in the preseason working on our skills and our fundamental skills so it's something we want to utilise."