General Intersting, Balanced and Realistic Line-Up Preview



At the beginning of each new NRL season I make a bet with a mate’s dad on the predicted success of the Warriors.

The bet is rather simple – if the Warriors make the grand final I win a bottle of beer (usually Tui although since moving to Auckland it has upgraded to Becks), and if the Auckland-based side fail then I owe him a bottle of the finest Lion Red.

So nothing major really, just a bit of fun. If you ignore the fact that I’m close to owing a mate’s father the equivalent of an entire box of Lion Red when counting up all the bets I have lost over the years.

Expect for last year of course - my lawyers are currently arguing the Warriors technically made a grand final, the under-20s grand final which they won.

So onto 2011 where I am sure the team will finally prove me right. Or wrong. Again.

Hello: Feleti Mateo, Krisnan Inu, Shaun Berrigan, Steve Rapira.

Goodbye: Steve Price (retired), Jesse Royal (retired), Michael Afioga (released), Brent Tate (Cowboys), Ian Henderson (Catalans), Elijah Niko (Storm), Mark Ioane (Raiders), Nafe Seluini (Panthers), Siutonga Likiliki (Knights)


Incumbent: Lance Hohaia
Other candidates: Kevin Locke, Glen Fisiiahi, Krisnan Inu, Jerome Ropati.

Ever since Hohaia put on the number one jersey back in 2008 he has been on two playoff trips, won a World Cup and most recently been part of a Kiwis team that claimed an unexpected Four Nations title.
But while it is impressive there are still fans unsatisfied with the utility player and want Locke at the back.

Or Fisiiahi.

Or the next young kid to star in the under-20s.

Or Inu (ok, maybe not Inu but he is an option).

Locke, Fisiiahi and Inu are no doubt faster then Hohaia but all three have their flaws.

Locke hasn't proven the hype when given a chance in the fullback position and Inu is probably more a wing/centre then a fulltime fullback at this point in his career.

The Fish could do with another season in the under-20s or in the more challenging NSW Cup so he never does this again.

Predicted starter for round one: Lance Hohaia


Incumbents: Manu Vatuvei, Kevin Locke.
Other candidates: Bill Tupou, Krisnan Inu, Glen Fisiiahi.

As long as both legs are working Vatuvei will have a starting spot all season long.

Locke will not be as fortunate since he will have to fight off Krisnan Inu and/or Bill Tupou for a place in the side.

Tupou may not be the flashiest player out there but sometimes a guy who just does the basics is better for a team’s dynamics.

Fisiiahi could see game time from the wing if the coaches are seriously looking at easing him into the premier squad in 2011.
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Predicted starters: Manu Vatuvei and Kevin Locke.


Incumbents: Jerome Ropati, Joel Moon
Other candidates: Shaun Berrigan, Krisnan Inu, Elijah Taylor, Lewis Brown and pretty much all the back-rowers expect for Michael Luck.

One to watch this pre-season is the right-centre position vacated by Brent Tate.

Joel Moon will have first shot at replacing Tate but should he fail there are plenty of options for Ivan Cleary to select from.

Krisnan Inu could be a defensive liability at centre but there is no denying he has an attacking flair which could work well with a guy like Kevin Locke.

Young prospect Elijah Taylor could learn the ropes in the centres the same way Simon Mannering did or Cleary could go with recently signed veteran Shaun Berrigan to provide any leadership which may have disappeared with Tate's departure.

Lewis Brown showed last season he can provide impact with solid defence when playing at centre.

Other backrowers like Mannering, Feleti Mateo, Sione Lousi, Ukuma Ta'ai could be used in a pinch.
Jerome Ropati is almost certain to retain his place next to Vatuvei.

Predicted starters: Jerome Ropati, Krisnan Inu.


Incumbents: Brett Seymour, James Maloney
Other candidates: Isaac John, Shaun Johnson, Feleti Mateo, Shaun Berrigan, Pita Godinet.

Remember when the best options the Warriors had in the halves was Michael Witt and Grant Rovelli?

Those days seem long ago now with the club spoilt for choice.

James Maloney was a revelation last year and should be the club's number one priority to re-sign to a long term deal.

Halfback Brett Seymour's first season with the Warriors was plagued with injuries but expect him to turn that around come the first match.

But Seymour is being chased by young guns Isaac John and Shaun Johnson.

John had a series of strong games when filling in for Seymour before a knee injury ended his season.

John’s tactical kicking was exceptional and will see him earn more game-time or look somewhere else in 2012.

Johnson had a mixed season after being touted by Andrew Johns as the next big thing.

He ended it with a win in the under-20s grand final but will probably spend most of his season playing in the lower grades.

Feleti Mateo and Shaun Berrigan are choices for the coaching staff but will most likely be used elsewhere.

If Pita Godinet, 2010 NSW Cup halfback of the year, can win a contract this pre-season he could be an exciting prospect if given the chance.

Predicted starters: Brett Seymour (at standoff), James Maloney (at halfback).

Loose Forward

Incumbent: Michael Luck
Candidates: Feleti Mateo, Steve Rapira, Lewis Brown, Elijah Taylor

The chances of Michael Luck losing this position battle are slim but if there is one knock on the defensive workhorse it is his lack of attacking ability.

This was countered last year by using Ian Henderson at lock but the club has a few options this time round with Mateo and Rapira likely replacements if Luck was to slice his leg up again as he did against the boot of Manly's Anthony Watmough.

Predicted winner: Michael Luck.


Incumbents: Simon Mannering, Lewis Brown.
Candidates: Feleti Mateo, Steve Rapira, Elijah Taylor, Ukuma Ta'ai, Sione Lousi, Ben Henry

I once held the belief that you can never have too many second-rowers in a team.

The Warriors have forced my belief to change because, well, they have too many second rowers in their team.

Simon Mannering is certain of a spot because he is the captain and it would be rather awkward to have the captain starting from the bench or sitting in the stands.

Lewis Brown has come a long way since convincing the Warriors to sign him over a cup of coffee but will probably give way to big-time signing Mateo for at least the early rounds.

Steve Rapira was set to be a regular starter for North Queensland before he made the shock decision to return back to the Warriors.

Now he will probably have to look at playing prop like his older brother Sam if he wants to get minutes on the field.

Ukuma Ta'ai has grown into an impact player for the club and will look to continue that role although he seems destined for less NRL games and more time with the Auckland Vulcans.

Sione Lousi and Ben Henry will see their game time with the Vulcans and under-20s side respectively.

Predicted starters: Simon Mannering, Feleti Mateo.


Incumbents: Sam Rapira, Russell Packer
Candidates: Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman, Jeremy Latimore, Upu Poching, James Gavet, Steve Rapira.

With the era of Steve Price gone the club will be looking to Sammy Rapira to lead a rather young Warriors front-row.
Rapira, Russell Packer and Ben Matulino give the squad some powerful meter-eaters but after the talented trio there is somewhat of a drop off in the prop stocks.

Jacob Lillyman is another second-rower turned prop and will no doubt be the fourth option but it would mean the club would only have two specialist props in Rapira and Packer.

Jeremy Latimore offers the size up front but can he be a regular for the club or just a stop-gap?

Neither Poching or Gavet have really been given a chance to showcase themselves in the big time.

In Gavet's case he has yet to start an NRL match.

In what could be seen as the Warriors weakest position it wouldn't be surprising to see the club acquire a veteran prop during pre-season.

Predicted starters: Sam Rapira, Russell Packer.


Incumbent: Aaron Heremaia
Candidates: Shaun Berrigan, Alehana Mara, Elijah Taylor, Lewis Brown, Lance Hohaia, Pita Godinet.

In 2010 Aaron Heremaia finally showed the potential many saw of him back in 2001 - especially with a kicking game which had been missing in the Warriors number nine jersey for sometime.

It was enough to see former starter Ian Henderson leave for France in the off-season leaving only rookies Alehana Mara and Elijah Taylor as back-up options to Heremaia.

Enter Shaun Berrigan and while the 32 year-old is winding down his career, he will be a handy option for latter parts of the season if the Warriors make the playoffs.

Predicted starter: Aaron Heremaia

Predicted bench: Shaun Berrigan, Jacob Lillyman, Ben Matulino, Lewis Brown.
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They are very much so on point with most things. Just two things.

I believe Moon should have first shot at centre & while they agree they still put Inu as the predicted starter. An oversight, perhaps?

We may end up not needing to look for a Blair type player for prop by end of the year. As hopefully one of those very talented youngsters such as Poching may suprise. Sam in form is one of, if not, the best prop in the comp. Ben obviously can mix it with the best. Packer can eat the important metres out. Adding to those potential talents waiting in the wings & i don't see our front row as our weakest area. Obviously a Blair would be a treat but it may just be we won't seem to need him by the seasons end. Though, either way this season should clear that up one way or another.


Yeah, I reckon we've got all the big, imported talent we need. Focus should be on bringing through young guns to fill the gaps.


I think we're pretty good for depth and potential (but not experience) in all positions. We just need the younger guys to step up and play at the level most of us have seen in the under 20s.

2010 was the year of the young forward with Matulino, Packer, Brown and Tai'ai all kicking into top gear. Maybe 2011 will be the year of the backs/hookers with Fish, Locke, Mara and Tupou all knocking on the door for their place in the team...

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