Rugby league: The Warriors' plan to deal with mounting injuries ahead of NRL clash against Storm
Warriors coach Nathan Brown
may be forced to get creative over the next few weeks to deal with a mounting injury toll – especially in the backline.
Sunday's 20-14 win against the Dragons
was a welcome tonic and puts a different complexion on the first quarter of the season, particularly after the inexplicable loss to the Sea Eagles last week.
But there were more casualties from the game at Kogarah Oval, with senior centre Peta Hiku
(dislocated shoulder) the most unfortunate. Wing Ken Maumalo
battled a leg strain through the match, while Adam Pompey
left the field with an ankle problem late in the second half.
It means that the Warriors could face the Storm on Sunday with only two of their first choice backline from round one (Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
and Kodi Nikorima
) and yet more fresh faces, with Euan Aitken
, Chanel Harris-Tavita
and David Fusitua
Centre could be a particular problem, if Pompey
and Euan Aitken
(ankle) on the unavailable list and Marcelo Montoya
is needed to cover the wing.
'We are not having much luck there, for whatever reason," said Brown. "[Injuries] are starting to mount up a bit high, a bit too high than what you would like. Clubs sometimes go through bad runs and sometimes you have good runs."
Brown has alternatives, though they were mostly rookies.
"We've got some young ones here that have been knocking on the door for a while," said Brown. "Rocco Berry
, young Reece Welsh has been training with us for a week, a few other development players.
"We've got some young blokes there that need to play football and the only way they are going to get better is by playing [but] sometimes you get forced to play them sooner than you'd like."
Brown was thrilled with Sunday's overall effort, in a performance that melded accuracy and commitment. The Warriors were solid in the grind (39/40 completions), creative when they needed to be and strong on defence.
They were also gritty, regularly finding a way out of tough situations.
The Dragons led 14-12 heading into the final 15 minutes and seemed to have the wind in their sails following Matt Dufty's try, in front of a vocal crowd, but the visitors refused to yield.
"We've lost a couple of close ones this year and won a couple of close ones," said Brown. "All our games seem to be pretty tight at the moment."
There was a marked offensive improvement on Sunday, with the Warriors looking much more threatening, engineering breaks up the middle and out wide.
"We were a lot better with the ball," said Brown. "We need to keep working hard and but it was a nice improvement.
"The ball got to the right people much quicker. It's like any side that is going to do well, you need your best players to get the ball quick. It seemed to change a little bit [on Sunday] and hopefully we can continue to work on it."
It wasn't perfect – Brown felt his team were too conservative in the first half – but they profited from taking more chances after the break.
In a solid team performance, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
The captain carried for 265 metres from 26 runs and was a constant threat, with two line breaks and several other half breaks.
He put the stamp on his 100th match with a wonderful solo try, eluding three defenders after swift transfers from Sean O'Sullivan and Kodi Nikorima
"He always competes hard," said Brown. "He's actually wants to get the ball in his hands and you need your best players to want the ball, especially in tough and tight situations.
"He came up with some good plays for us [on Sunday] and moving forward for the rest of this year it's obviously something that [we've] just got to keep chipping away at. If Roger keeps getting himself in good spots, hopefully he can come up with good plays for us."
's become something of a barometer, a bit like Shaun Johnson used to be.