It's a measure of the Warriors' progress this year that Blake Green won't be risked on Friday night against Canberra.

Green wasn't considered for selection, not quite recovered from a calf injury sustained in the narrow loss to the Bulldogs on August 19.

The Australian play maker has been a crucial element to the Warriors mix this year – in many games he was arguably the most important player – with his calm authority, game management and organisational skills.

Coach Stephen Kearney said Green was close, but they erred on the side of caution.
"We just felt he wasn't quite right...he wasn't 100 per cent," Kearney told Radio Sport. "It was really important that he didn't make it any worse and it was better to give him another week off. [But] he wasn't too far away."

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It's a novel situation. In many other years, players like Green would have been thrown back into action, often as the Warriors searched for a face-saving win or hung on to a desperate mathematical possibility of a finals spot.

That's not necessary now, after the Warriors guaranteed playoff football with their 36-16 victory over Penrith last Friday night.

But it's also a reflection on the depth and belief at the club. It wasn't so long ago that the Warriors would fall apart when they lost a key player, but in 2018 they've won big games without Shaun Johnson, without Simon Mannering, without Tohu Harris and now without Green.

Friday is also a must win match, to maintain their current momentum and also keep the hopes of a home playoff game alive.

Mason Lino will be entrusted with the five eighth position again, having been part of memorable victories over the Dragons, Roosters and Panthers this year.

Lino's attitude and dedication to training was obvious last Friday, as he stepped up to first grade without missing a beat.

He played a key role in a couple of tries, scored one himself, linked well and kicked with authority.

Simon Mannering will take centre stage in an otherwise unchanged starting line-up, with his historic 300th appearance.

And the 32-year-old should get the farewell he deserves, with the house full sign expected to go up at Mt Smart.

Late last night there were only around 3,000 tickets available, after a successful promotion yesterday saw more than 10,000 snapped up in less than eight hours.

The inclusion of Gerard Beale into the interchange is the only change to the 17.

Kearney confirmed that Beale had recovered well from the hamstring complaint that saw him miss the Penrith clash, though Peta Hiku performed well in his absence.

The Warriors sit in eighth place, one of four teams on 30 points. To finish 6th, and secure a home playoff game, they'll need to beat the Raiders and also hope that two of the Panthers (versus Storm), Dragons (versus Knights) and Broncos (versus Sea Eagles) fail to win.

Wing David Fusitu'a is also chasing history, trying to become the first Warrior to top the try-scoring list for the regular season. His hat-trick against Penrith lifted him to 21 tries with Cronulla's Valentine Holmes second on 20. Manu Vatuvei (20 tries in 2010) is the only other Warriors player to reach the 20-try mark in a regular season.


WARRIORS v CANBERRA RAIDERS
8.00pm, Friday, August 31, 2018
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

WARRIORS

1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 DAVID FUSITU'A
3 PETA HIKU
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 MASON LINO
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JAMES GAVET
9 ISSAC LUKE
10 AGNATIUS PAASI
11 ADAM BLAIR
12 TOHU HARRIS
13 SIMON MANNERING
Interchange:
14 JAZZ TEVAGA
15 ISAIAH PAPALI'I
16 BUNTY AFOA
17 GERARD BEALE
18 LEIVAHA PULU
20 ANTHONY GELLING
21 CHRIS SATAE
22 KARL LAWTON

COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY