Injured Warriors duo Issac Luke and Blake Green on track for round one

2019-02-19 07:38:07

They won't feature in this week's first trial against Melbourne but there was positive news coming out of the Warriors around two of their most important players.

Coach Stephen Kearney revealed injured duo Issac Luke and Blake Green were on track to take the field in the season-opener against the Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium on March 16.

Veteran hooker Luke is coming off shoulder surgery which reportedly led to Newcastle withdrawing their offer during his protracted contract negotiations last year.

At the time it was feared Luke, who eventually signed a one-year extension with the Warriors, could miss the start of the season but Kearney has been encouraged by the 31-year-old's progress.

"He's tracking along nicely. Providing the next couple of weeks are good to him he should be okay for round one," Kearney said.

Green is on the mend from a hamstring strain he suffered in training a few weeks ago.

The injury was not considered serious and he was always likely to be available for the Bulldogs clash.

But Kearney was hopeful the 32-year-old playmaker will be ready to take part in next week's trial against Wests Tigers in Whangarei.

"His running has improved every day," Kearney said. "He was up and running not long after he put a slight strain in [his hamstring], which was a good sign. We've just to keep track of him. The next week or so is important for him to be part of the second trial."

Green's injury has opened the door for halves Adam Keighran, Chanel Harris-Tevita and Hayze Perham to step up at training and the young trio have the perfect opportunity to put their hard work into practice against the Storm in Geelong with the trio all being named for Friday night's trial.

Kearney said the idea was to give all three players equal time in the halves as he looks to settle on a partner for Green following the release of former star Shaun Johnson.

Another exciting young halves prospect Paul Turner will also travel to Melbourne.

Along with the four New Zealand Māori representatives from last week's All-Stars clash (Adam Blair, Tohu Harris, Peta Hiku and Gerrard Beale), skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and wingers David Fusitu'a and Ken Maumalo have also been rested this week.

Hooker Nate Roache, who missed the entire 2018 season with a back injury, has been named and Kearney has confirmed the 22-year-old will be used for 20 minutes in the trial.

One of the players he will share the hooking duties with will be new signing and last year's Junior Kiwis hooker Sean Mulaney who has joined the Warriors from North Queensland.

New forwards signing Lachlan Burr will be joined by first-grade regulars Bunty Afoa, Isaiah Papali'i, Jazz Tevaga and exciting young prospect Tom Ale.

Former Parramatta Eels utility Api Pewhairangi, who was signed by the Warriors in 2015 but didn't play for the NRL side, has returned to New Zealand from a stint with the London Broncos and will also play in the Melbourne trial.

Kearney is looking forward to seeing how some of the more inexperienced members of his squad handle the contest.

And while there will undoubtedly be plenty of rust that comes with the first game of a season, the coach has made it clear that he expects a certain standard.

"I'm after effort," Kearney said. "I know things aren't going to be grand final-standard in the second weekend of February. But what we do have a handle on is our effort and as long as we we're working towards it I'm sure that will be helpful."

WARRIORS SQUAD FOR MELBOURNE TRIAL: Bunty Afoa, Tom Ale, Blake Ayshford, Lachlan Burr, Sam Cook, Neria Fomia, Patrick Herbert, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Adam Keighran, Sam Lisone, Sean Mulaney, Isaiah Papali'i, Hayze Perham, Api Pewhairangi, Adam Pompey, Nate Roache, Chris Satae, Brody Tamarua, Jazz Tevaga, Paul Turner, Ligi Sao, Lewis Soosomea, Cole Waaka.

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