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Warriors' injury blow opens possibility of RTS fullback return

Will Toogood,
Publish Date
Tue, 20 Feb 2024, 3:56PM

Warriors' injury blow opens possibility of RTS fullback return

Will Toogood,
Publish Date
Tue, 20 Feb 2024, 3:56PM

The pre-season injury niggles continue for the Warriors with coach Andrew Webster saying that star fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad will not play in their second trial match this Saturday.

Webster told media the club had hoped to have Nicoll-Klokstad available but that they’d taken a “long-haul” approach to his recovery.

“Charnze has got a hamstring trouble. It’s a hamstring niggle, it’s a little bit of back as well. We assessed it and thought he’d be back for this trial but we’re probably going to re-strip him down, get him right and make sure we’ve got him for the long haul, so we’ll play that one by ear but he definitely won’t be playing this week.”

The news presents a somewhat tricky situation for the Warriors. With Taine Tuaupiki established by Webster as the understudy to Nicoll-Klokstad, that leaves few further options should the hamstring niggle prove more serious.

Of course, there is one player who has pedigree at fullback: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

Webster, though, was quick to re-confirm the fullback pecking order and that Tuaupiki will be the preferred option to cover for Nicoll-Klokstad.

“Taine’s it. I’ve said that from day one, told Taine that last year, told Roger that. I do believe that if Taine wasn’t available for selection for whatever reason then Roger would have to do a job there.

“It’s not to say we won’t see Roger in some capacity at some stage there but I’m hoping we don’t have to because that means everyone’s fit.”

The Dally M Coach of the Year said injuries do happen and the club would be “mad” not to give Tuivasa-Sheck “some reps” as a contingency plan.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck impressed in his return to rugby league. Photo / Photosport
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck impressed in his return to rugby league. Photo / Photosport

The Tuivasa-Sheck positional discussion seemed all but decided following the Warriors first trial against the Tigers on Sunday in Christchurch. The returning All Black was a standout performer - slotting into the backline at centre and earning the most running metres for the home side as well as putting in a number of big defensive plays.

“I thought he played great, I thought he took his opportunities well, I thought he had some tough carries, thought he got to show his flair and he came up with a ripper of a tackle and forced an error so I’m pumped for Roge.”

Depending on how Nicoll-Klokstad’s injury progresses, though, it seems fans may in fact get a chance to see the Dally M medal-winning fullback in his old position after all.

In a big boost ahead of Saturday’s trial against the Dolphins, Webster says he has “every intention” of naming Shaun Johnson in the side - Johnson picked up a pre-season injury of his own and missed the first trial.

Webster also said that he is unsure at this stage who would be Johnson’s partner in the halves long-term, with the returning Chanel Harris-Tavita, Luke Metcalf and Te Maire Martin all showing they have the ability to take the number six jumper.

“It’s tough, but it’s a good headache. It’s something you’d want at each club is a headache around three really good options around who could be that number six role.”

Of concern to the Warriors will be the fate of prop Zyon Maiu’u, who was sent off for a high shot on Tigers centre Declan Casey.

Webster said the club would comment further on the situation once a hearing for Maiu’u had taken place but the initial priority had been ensuring that Casey was okay.

“We just wanted to make sure the welfare of the other player was okay, it wasn’t a nice situation getting stretchered off but we’ll comment more on that in future.”

He said the squad have got around Maiu’u, that he’s taken responsibility and is feeling “gutted” as he never wanted anything like that to happen and is disappointed due to how hard he has worked in pre-season.

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