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Warriors’ must-win battle against the Knights

Posted: 2pm 25 May 2022

A former Dolphin will help fill the gap in the Warriors’ forward pack, when the side takes on the Newcastle Knights in round 12 of the NRL at Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium this weekend.

Dunamis Lui joins the club as new Warriors’ teammate Euan Aitken confirms he’ll make Redcliffe his home next season.

The clash against the Knights on Saturday from 3pm is a must-win for the Warriors, who are 12th on the ladder. The Knights are placed 15th but they share the points with the Titans (13th) and Wests Tigers (14th).

Warriors’ Head Coach Nathan Brown says he expects the Knights will be desperate for a win.

“We’re just a touch ahead of them on the ladder. Their style of footy with the big Saff (Saifiti) boys and Klem (Klemmer) … they like to win the advantage line,” Brown says.

“That’s certainly one of the things they’ve done pretty well for a while now and obviously Kalyn (Ponga) is a very talented player, so you’d expect him to figure and limiting his impact will be quite important for us.”

Harris-Tavita returns

The game will mark the return of the Warriors’ Chanel Harris-Tavita, who has decided to take a break from rugby league at the end of the 2023 season.

The 23-year-old talented playmaker has been out for a month since having a testicle ruptured in a friendly fire incident in his side’s Anzac Day loss to Melbourne.

He has since revealed he’s not enjoying playing as much as he once did and is reluctant to sign another contract.

Brown says he respects Harris-Tavita’s decision, made while considering a lucrative offer from the Warriors and being courted by other clubs.

“To actually turn down the money and go into, I suppose, no-man’s land is a big, big decision and credit to the kid for doing what he wants to do because you just don’t play rugby league or sport just because you’re good at it, you’ve got to want to do it. We’re all proud of him here, to be honest with you,” he says.

Brown says this is the first time he’s seen such a young player, who’s in demand and still has his best playing years ahead take break, but there was no attempt to persuade him.

“Anyone who tries to talk him out of it is not doing the right thing by the kid,” he says.

“Chanel’s really keen to finish the year off strong and then he’ll travel for a year and do what he does and he may play rugby league and he may not.”

Harris-Tavita trained twice last week and, while he’ll continue to wear a ‘cricket box’, is looking good for Saturday.

With the forward pack depleted by the sudden departure of Matt Lodge and a foot injury to Addin Fonua-Blake, which is likely to sideline him for four weeks, the immediate addition of Dunamis Lui will bring some much-needed experience to the squad. He has been named on the extended bench.

“Obviously, when you take a couple of experienced players out of our squad (Lodge and Fonua-Blake) we become very young. He’s played plenty of finals footy, he’s played Origin, Grand Final football … it’s probably his know-how of knowing what the NRL’s all about which is the key,” Brown explains.

“He’s been playing for Redcliffe regularly. I’ve been watching him play for Redcliffe – he’s always the one who’s a stand-out player. His hardened experience is probably the key for our squad and what he’s going to bring.”

Aitken inks a deal

It comes as the Warriors’ Euan Aitken signs with the Dolphins’ NRL team from 2023. The versatile centre and second-rower, who did not want to move to New Zealand next year, will remain with Warriors until the end of this season.

Brown says, while he will be sorry to lose Aitken, he understands the decision made for family reasons.

“He’s had two years now where he hasn’t moved and now he’s engaged … it was more a decision, ‘I’ve got a year to go and I’m not so sure about moving to New Zealand now that my stage of life’s changed’, which happens,” Brown says.

“We can tell by his form that he certainly enjoys the club and enjoys the boys. He’s had an outstanding year for us. While I’m sad to see him go, I’m very happy to see him secure a contract and he’ll be a really, really good signing for the Dolphins.”

While Harris-Tavita and Arthars make their comebacks this weekend, hooker Wayde Egan (calf) and back rowers Josh Curran (knee) and Bayley Sironen (osteitis pubis) remain on the injury list ahead of anticipated returns next week.

Despite three-straight losses, Brown says the squad’s younger players are continuing to improve but consistency is key to turning things around.

“We tend to be around the money and last week, in a couple of parts of the game were the best we’ve played. We had three or four blokes who were probably a bit below par which is difficult to carry in the NRL,” he says.

“It’s a matter of punching out a couple of close wins, with how the table is, you move pretty quickly in this competition.

“At the moment, there’s four or five standout sides and we’ve beaten two of those sides at Moreton Daily Stadium – Broncos and Cowboys – and played some good footy.

“We’ve certainly got it there. If we can get some combinations to stay together and find us that little bit of consistency, we could certainly work our way up the ladder quicker than what people think.”

And he’s hoping a big crowd will support the team this weekend at Moreton Daily Stadium, where they have an unbeaten record this season.

Head here to buy tickets.

Remaining home games at Moreton Daily Stadium

Warriors V Knights

May 28, 3pm kick-off

Warriors V Sharks

June 12, 6.15pm kick-off

Warriors V Panthers

June 18, 5.30pm kick-off

The Warriors return to Mt Smart, Auckland, for their round 16 clash against Wests Tigers on July 3 where they will play all remaining home games except their round 21 game against the Rabbitohs on August 6 which will be played at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

Vodafone Warriors’ team list

1 REECE WALSH

2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK

3 VILIAMI VAILEA

4 ADAM POMPEY

5 MARCELO MONTOYA

6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA

7 SHAUN JOHNSON

8 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA

9 FREDDY LUSSICK

10 JAZZ TEVAGA

11 EUAN AITKEN

12 TOHU HARRIS (c)

13 JACK MURCHIE

Extended bench:

14 TANIELA OTUKOLO

15 AARON PENE

15 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA

16 BUNTY AFOA

17 ELIESA KATOA

18 JESSE ARTHARS

20 ROCCO BERRY

21 DUNAMIS LUI

22 DAEJARN ASI

23 PRIDE PETTERSON-ROBATI

24 RONALD VOLKMAN

25 JACKSON FREI

Head coach | Nathan BROWN

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