NRL: Warriors hooker Nathaniel Roache given time to prove fitness
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/112717611/-

2019-05-14 06:09:05

The Warriors will give Nathaniel Roache every chance of playing against the Panthers on Friday, even though he wasn't at training on Tuesday.

However, Adam Blair is the latest big name casualty to pay the price for poor form and can only make it onto the extended interchange bench.

The 23-year-old hooker Roache, who has displaced Issac Luke from the starting team, picked up yet another injury in his short career in the 26-18 win in Brisbane on Saturday.

Jazz Tevaga also skipped Tuesday's training and depending on how these two players go, it might mean a recall of some sort for Luke.

"Jazz is just resting a bit of a sore foot from Saturday and Nate hurt his back," Kearney confirmed.

"Nate will get named and we'll give him every opportunity to play on Friday."

Kearney wouldn't speculate on the chances of Roache being available, but he remains the club's first choice at hooker.

"I don't have a crystal ball but we'll give him every chance," Kearney said.

"He's gotten better every day. A couple of travel legs in between - a flight back (from Australia) and a flight back over so that all needs to be taken into account.

"You try to give him his best opportunity to play as possible."

It's likely that even if Roache is ruled out this weekend Karl Lawton will be the starting hooker.

The Australian impressed against the Dragons, taking his good form in the reserve grade team up to the next level.

"We had some consistency in attack and that consequently gave Karl an opportunity out of dummy half to pierce their defensive line, which I thought gave us a bit of momentum," Kearney said.

"We know what he's capable of. He's put himself in the frame by playing really consistent footy at Canterbury Cup level.

"What we try to preach at the club is that when the opportunity presents itself, you've got to take it with both hands. He certainly did that."

For Luke, who wasn't able to play at all last week, as it was a bye round in the Canterbury Cup, he faces a battle over the rest of the season to reclaim his spot as the Kearney's favoured hooker.

It won't just take a form slump from the other options for that to happen, but also for him to get back to his best.

"[He needs to] play well," Kearney said.

"Everyone who gets that opportunity finds themselves in that position where they're back at Canterbury Cup level and/or aren't playing to their potential.

"It's about preparing well and then going out and playing well, whichever grade you're playing.

"That doesn't change, whether you've played 200 games, 300 games, 50 games. It's the same thing.

"He'll be named in the 21. Obviously Nathaniel, in the position that he's in (with his injury, we're giving him every chance to play, I couldn't tell you today what grade he'll be playing."

If Luke doesn't make the NRL team, he'll be running out for the reserves against the Panthers in Penrith on Saturday, as will Adam Blair and Gerard Beale, three Kiwi internationals.

Blair, like Luke has felt the wrath of Kearney and as their form has dropped away, younger players like Patrick Herbert, Isaiah Papali'i and Ken Maumalo have stepped up.

"He's done some positive things," Kearney said of Herbert.

"It's about continuing to improve and get better. There's little parts of his game where he can do that.

"He's tracking along well. He's keeping a guy out of the position in Sol Kata who's got a fair bit of experience under his belt.

"I don't think anyone's got any position locked up."

Kearney was equally pleased with how Maumalo has been playing.

"What I've been really impressed from Ken is that right from the end of last season to coming back, he wants to find areas of his game that he needs to improve, that he can be better at," he said.

"He's gone away and done that. He came back after the Kiwi tour and I thought there were parts of his game that improved.

"Obviously the strength of Ken is his carry and he's been pretty consistent with that over the last three weeks.

"That's part of wanting to be one of the best wingers in the competition. You will always strive to find ways to get yourself better. Ken does a really good job of that."

AT A GLANCE

Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitu'a, Peta Hiku, Patrick Herbert, Ken Maumalo, Kodi Nikorima, Blake Green, Agnatius Paasi, Nathaniel Roache, Leeson Ah Mau, Isaiah Papali'i, Tohu Harris, Lachlan Burr. Interchange (from): Jazz Tevaga, Bunty Afoa, Ligi Sao, Karl Lawton, Gerard Beale, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Issac Luke, Adam Blair.

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