Warriors coach Stephen Kearney admitted fill-in halfback Mason Lino has provided a welcome selection conundrum after a strong performance in last night's impressive 20-12 NRL win over the Dragons.
The 24-year-old didn't miss a beat as he stepped in to replace star playmaker Shaun Johnson, who missed the match after suffering a leg injury in Friday's captain's run.
Following on from his 18-point haul in the round four 30-6 win over the Roosters last month, Lino shrugged off three tackles to score the Warriors first try after four minutes and provided a well-placed kick that led to back-rower Isaiah Papali'i's match-winning four-pointer with two minutes remaining.
Johnson is due to undergo a fitness test today on his injured leg – believed to be a recurrence on the groin strain that kept him out of the win over the Roosters – but even if he is fit, Kearney conceded Lino had given him food for thought ahead of their Anzac Day clash against Melbourne.
"He certainly has," Kearney said.
"Not just because of the two performances. The last time he came in, against the Roosters and tonight, but all the lads love having him in the team and playing with him and having him around at training.
"He's a handy guy to have in your team that's for sure."
Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck praised Lino's contribution and demeanour both at training and while steering the side around the park alongside five-eighth Blake Green.
Lino slotted in seamlessly to guide the Warriors attack and although targeted in defence did a good job of tackling the Dragons big forwards out on the right edge.
"He was awesome tonight," Tuivasa-Sheck said.
"Right from training he's always got that good energy about him and like (Kearney) was saying, we all like having him around.
"He has a buzz about him and when he gets on to the field he knows his job really well and he executes.
"Once again he played well, even defensively, the way he can get up there and stop those big guys. He had a great game."
The Warriors face a short turnaround before their traditional Anzac Day meeting with the Storm at AAMI Park, and besides concerns over Johnson's health are also waiting to learn the status of injuries to centre Solomone Kata (ankle) and back-rower Tohu Harris (concussion).
Kata missed the win over St George Illawarra after hurting himself in last week's loss to Brisbane, while Harris was forced from the field in the 27th minute last night after two separate head knocks.
The Kiwis international was smashed by Dragons bench forward Leeson Ah Mau and then shortly after copped a stray knee from back-rower Tariq Sims to see him exit the match.
"We give them all a chance," Kearney said.
"We'll have to assess T and he'll go through the concussion protocol and Sol will have a run tomorrow. Shaun we're going to try to run him tomorrow, so we'll just see how the next couple of days pan out."
Meanwhile, Kearney denied his side had set out with a plan to deliberately concede penalties after Dragons coach Paul McGregor questioned their try line tactics following his side's first defeat of the season.
"They obviously came with a plan, they gave away a lot of penalties and defended their line well, whether that was part of it I'm not sure," McGregor said.
When asked directly if he felt the Warriors had intentionally stifled the Dragons attack after giving away 10 first-half penalties and having Green sent to the sinbin just before the break, McGregor replied: "Maybe. There were a lot of them around the same area of the field. But look, I'm taking nothing away from the Warriors tonight, they were very good.
"There was a few blown. I suppose someone did go to the bin late in that first half."
Kearney was adamant his side had not adopted a cynical game plan and said they were simply determined to not give the visitors any room to move.
"It wasn't on our tip sheet. I can honestly say it wasn't," he said.
"We knew we had to put pressure on the Dragons. For the last six weeks they've had a really good run and we had to put pressure on them through a bit of line speed and really going after them.
"But it wasn't our intention to deliberately give penalties away."
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