Right apologies I am not Sneakdefreak but thought someone should do a take for the Warriors.. so here is the sneakless version (we miss you wherever you are), using first team list for the year. First home game to be played in Wellington since 2019
Fullback: CNK has first go at this position. Was custodian at Canberra until Savage came onto the scene. Great at hitting the ball up from the back, not necessarily the best as an extra play maker. Te Maire Martin would have also been considered for this slot depending on how the halves develop. Tuapiki is a young talent but likely only to see game time via injury.
Wingers: DWZ and Marcelo Montoya are the incumbents and solid wingers both capable of also returning kicks from deep to help the forwards. Marcelo doesn’t have a great track record at the judiciary so hopefully doesn’t spend much time there. Good finishers just need decent ball. Kosi developing and is probably the best finisher, but needs to work on his other skills.
Centres: For me the weakest area outside of the halves. CNK can also play here after doing this successfully for the Raiders, may get a shot later in the year if Te Maire Martin moves to fullback. For me this will also reply on the fitness of young Luke Metcalf who is injured. Metcalf would have started for the Sharks last year if the Warriors had not bought him. Was very good in the trial match against Tigers in first hit out before injury. This leaves us with journeyman Williame (who played French rugby last couple of years after getting dropped by St George lol. ). Viliami Vailea is young and looked ok but needs more time, Pompey who also had some solid but not spectacular moments and Rocco Berry who will probably only get a crack if all of above are injured.
Halves and Hooker: SJ - to his credit is 2kg less than last year for game day playing weight. We all know what he can do when he takes on the line, just has never done it often enough. Option taking and poor pass selection (intercepts) has been high in last couple of years. Defence is optional especially if behind. On his day though he will bring a smile to many kiwis, just hoping that is not just in reruns. Back up is young Volkman but he also needs more time before running the show although will likely get a few chances, stolen also from Roosters development squad there are some high future hopes here. Te Maire Martin is a good play maker and we will need someone to create. Metcalf I think will play six later this year. Dylan Walker likely to play an impact role off the bench covering a few roles. Egan is the starting hooker and although his first season was not great, actually had some really strong moments last year in a disappointing team darting from dummy half. Lussick is the backup hooker although with Walker to play off the bench this week and the rest forward rotation, will also cover this area.
Middles (props and 13): AFB and Mitch Barnett as starting props. Lots of big mobile go forward and hard hitting right here (not all legal). Both capable of offloads and unfortunately errors. Barnett is an unlikeable hot head but when he is focussed he has a strong work ethic and makes a lot of tackles. Kicks at above 75% if needed. Afoa and Ale round out the rotation here, Ale is still young and has gone through the dev system. They let a few others go to keep him. Tohu Harris will start at lock and likely to easily slip into prop rotation when Curran/Walker to also see time here. Tevaga to also come back at some stage as an interchange specialist.
Second row: Marata Niukore and Jackson Ford to start on the edges with some big expectations on Niukore especially to bring a hard edge. Ford the standard for aussie average but does a job without many errors. Bayley Sironen to also come back and compete but after last trial Webster will roll out the two newbies. Barnett and Harris can also play on the edge if injuries occur.
Summary: Cant see this being the warriors year. If we make the top eight (and I would call that enough to say it was our year), we would need to score more points and reduce basic errors. We were one of the worst attacking teams last year and a lot comes down to creating opportunities. We do though have a harder edge to our team this year and should not concede as often in tight games. In fact if we can capitalise on that harder edge on defence (legally) then we should improve overall and with this squad that is possible. If we get behind by a lot and heads go down then Im sure we will revert to what we know. Possible finish in run for the 8 until late but finish 12.
Game 1: In Wellington vs Newcastle. Warriors should be favourites here. In NZ and not playing one of the top teams. Newcastle look stronger in the backs even without Quadzilla (Marzhew) and I think we all hope Ponga doesn’t take a head knock but this is league and will likely happen, just hope with his history he isn’t out for half a season from game 1. They will score points and the Warriors will have to find ways to score other than from luck. In saying that they should be able to subdue Newcastle through size and power but not convincingly. Warriors by 4.