General Time to tame the Tigers

warriors4life_old

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From nzherald.co.nz

By Peter Jessup

The Warriors' season is not over if they do not win against West Tigers at Jade Stadium tonight but a continued run of poor form will knock confidence.

The Bulldogs bashed the Tigers up front last Friday night and it is a plan the Warriors would do well to adopt to restrict their scintillating backline.

Injuries force the Tigers to field just nine of the 17 who played last year's grand final. The question is how they will go without Benji Marshall, tipped to return next weekend after fracturing his cheekbone in round one.

They have won just six games from 20 with the star five-eighth out injured.

They have a new hooker Isaac de Gois to replace the dynamic Robbie Farah who is out with broken bones in his right hand.

Prop Bryce Gibbs is out, suspended and also ruled out with concussion. There was doubt over his fellow front rower Todd Payten who stayed in Sydney with a virus when the team flew over on Thursday. A decision was to be made last night on whether he would play.

Kiwi Jamaal Lolesi moves from centre to lock to replace Liam Fulton, who is out for the season with a shoulder problem. Halfback Scott Prince goes to five-eighth and reserve grade half Ben Reynolds steps up, with just 21 NRL games since his debut for Penrith in 2001 and six games for the Tigers since 2004.

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary was wary, remembering what they did last year to win the title. "They love proving people wrong and playing as underdogs so certainly we won't be taking them lightly."

He didn't expect much change to their game plan despite the reshuffle. They would run a lot of decoys and force the Warriors to make defensive decisions, he said.

The big change for the Warriors is the demotion of Lance Hohaia, who Cleary said was playing below his best. Replacement George Gatis was an out-and-out hooker, he said. That implies more dummy-half running and probing of the line.

But Cleary believes his players are good enough to reverse poor individual performances and momentary lapses from those playing well.

The game will also be a milestone for Awen Guttenbeil. It will be his 150th game in a career stunted by injuries that would have forced most from the game.

As a club veteran, he feels the need to take a leadership role.

"The longer you are somewhere the more proud you are and the more you take ownership."

He said he couldn't remember a season when there was a better spirit in the side than this year, and despite being penalised four points and losing their first two games, they remained focused on winning.

They just needed to build their confidence, he said.
 

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