Competition for backline spots is high at the Warriors with coach Stephen Kearney facing some tough selection decisions ahead of the start of the NRL season.

With most of their big names rested, several newcomers and fringe players pressed their claims in Saturday's hard-fought 20-14 trial win over a second-string Melbourne side in Rotorua.

Kearney was satisfied with the performance but hopes to get a clearer idea of who to pick for the round one clash against South Sydney on March 10 at the new Perth Stadium when the bulk of his first-choice players return for their final preseason hit-out against the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday.

"We've got eight or so guys coming back next week so there's going to be a bunch of fellas who will miss out, that's what competition is," said Kearney.


"In terms of my expectations this early, there were some really good patches, and there were some patches that weren't quite as tidy, so that's the improvement area. But I was quietly pleased."

The match on the Sunshine Coast is expected to give fans their first look at forward recruits Tohu Harris and Adam Blair, and new five-eighth Blake Green, along with captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, and fellow Kiwi internationals Shaun Johnson and Simon Mannering.

Kearney also anticipates hooker Issac Luke to take part in the game after hamstring issues restricted his training throughout the preseason.

"He's coming along ok," he said. "He should be right to play but we're just mindful of monitoring how he goes."

The four-tries-to-three victory saw former junior Warriors star Peta Hiku impress in his first match back after a stint with Warrington in the UK Super League.

The 25-year-old Kiwis and ex-Manly and Penrith utility started at right centre before switching to fullback and showed what his experience and class will add when he combined with Blake Ayshford to create a first-half try for David Fusitu'a.

"It was good to be back home playing in the Warriors colours," said Hiku.

"It was just good to get a feel for how the boys are and get a little bit of a run.

"We had a bit of a slow start and lost the grind early on. We just needed to get into a bit of an arm wrestle and we gave away too many penalties at the start and needed to get our numbers right. A lot of little simple stuff.

"It would be good to get back out there again next week and hopefully my name gets pulled out in that list."

Former Wigan centre Antony Gelling made his Warriors debut in the second-half against the Storm. Photo / Photosport.
Former Wigan centre Antony Gelling made his Warriors debut in the second-half against the Storm. Photo / Photosport.

The reliability of both Hiku and Ayshford, along with the pending return of Gerard Beale from the double leg fracture he suffered while playing for the Kiwis at the World Cup, gives the Warriors plenty of options out wide.

Tongan World Cup star Fusitu'a is a lock-in on the right flank but the left-side combination of centre Solomone Kata and Ken Maumalo could face a battle to retain their places.

Kata, who is looking to bounce back after a difficult 2017 season, opened the Warriors account against the Storm with a try at the end of the first quarter.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad also spent time at centre after starting the match in the No1 role, while former Wigan centre Anthony Gelling made his club debut in the second-half.

"Put Peta on the wing, in the centres, at fullback, and whatever is required he does it pretty well most of the time," said Kearney.

"That's what he'll have to offer the group this year so I'm pleased with that.

"The other side is probably a bit more power-based with Sol and Ken. There were some good signs."

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