Become a Patron!

Marks out of 10 for the 24 Warriors used in Thursday’s rousing 48-12 trial win over Wests Tigers at Mt Smart Stadium.


1 TAINE TUAUPIKI: Classy display on both sides of the ball from the 2022 Petro Civoniceva Medal winner to cloud the first-grade fullback picture. Ran for over 100 metres, made four tackle-breaks, had some nice ball-playing touches and was safe as a bank at the back. Officially elevated to a full-time contract a couple of days later. I’ve seen comparisons to the great Matt Bowen, but there’s also shades of Brent Webb – the previously unheralded 2002 breakout star who arrived at the Warriors after topping the Queensland Cup tryscoring charts with Wests Panthers. 7.5 

2 MARCELO MONTOYA: Finished 2022 in the centres but should be back on the left flank on the strength his barnstorming display against the Tigers featuring a hat-trick, four line-breaks, seven tackle-breaks and 161 running metres. Had to beat at least a couple of defenders to score all three of his tries, while they’re still excavating the northern in-goal area to retrieve Charlie Staines. 8 

3 BRAYDEN WILIAME: A real left-field performance to further muddy the Warriors’ three-quarter line waters. Fielding a centre with the ability to create has been a constant bugbear for the club (Peta Hiku was a rare exception), but Wiliame terrorised the Tigers’ right edge with three try assists and four line-break assists, as well as running for 97 metres and defending soundly. Not bad for a 30-year-old journeyman who spent last year playing rugby union in France. 7.5 

4 VILIAMI VAILEA: Quiet first half but his two opportunist tries in the second stanza were an exhilarating reminder that the 20-year-old is probably the most explosive, fastest and most talented back on the Warriors’ roster. 7 

5 EDWARD KOSI: With competition for wing and centres spots red hot and every other Warriors back putting in a standout display, Big Ed unfortunately didn’t do himself too many favours against the Tigers. Basic error on his first carry and took the ball into touch later in the first half without any highlight moments, though his carries were decent (11 runs for 96 metres), recorded three tackle-breaks and his play-the-ball speed was sharp. Perhaps telling he was picked on the right wing, where you’d assume DWZ will line up in Round 1. 5.5 

6 LUKE METCALF: There’s plenty of conjecture about where Metcalf can best serve this team – he’s a contender for fullback or even centre – but he staked a huge claim for a spot in the 17 with a sizzling display at five-eighth on Thursday night. Did the bulk of the kicking, was busy in a playmaking capacity (he had a lovely hand in Montoya’s third try) and tallied 150 running metres after producing a sensational 40-metre solo effort early in the second half. Metcalf’s speed is a commodity that will prove hard for Andrew Webster to resist. 8 

7 TE MAIRE MARTIN: Had the left-side attack humming in the first half and dished up a superb cut-out ball to lay on the first try for Montoya. Perhaps the most eye-catching element of his first hit-out in Warriors kit was his rock-solid shoulder in defence among 17 tackles with no misses. Looked like a leader and did enough to suggest he’ll partner Shaun Johnson in Round 1. 7.5 

8 BUNTY AFOA: Strong evening’s work from the front-row stalwart, racking up 12 runs for 106 metres and 26 tackles without a miss. More obvious was Bunty’s passing game, moving the ball on eight times as a key link in the Warriors’ dangerous shifts. Will be in the rotation come Round 1 surely. 7 

9 FREDDY LUSSICK: Wayde Egan’s undisputed No.1 understudy is arguably fighting a losing battle for a place in the gameday 17 with the more versatile likes of Dylan Walker and Jazz Tevaga vying for spots, but he did his chances no harm with a hard-working, no-frills display. Chalked up 32 tackles and 38 metres from three runs. 6 

10 TOM ALE: On the back of a strong finish to 2022 when finally given a chance, Ale made as big a statement as anyone against the Tigers with a game-high 19 runs and 180 metres, as well as six tackle-breaks. He was an absolute handful every time he took the ball up via his late footwork, leg drive and the occasional offload or pass. Absolute must for the Warriors’ Round 1 squad. 8.5

11 JACKSON FORD: The ex-St George Illawarra recruit got a starting opportunity and made a decent fist of it, running a good line to cross for the Warriors’ second try and making 60 metres on six runs, five tackle-breaks and 22 tackles. 6

12 DEMITRIC SIFAKULA: A relative unknown, the De La Salle product and development contract player was impressive with 10 runs for 107 metres (36 post-contact) and 25 tackles. Looking forward to seeing him progress in Slade Griffin’s NSW Cup outfit. 7

13 MICHAEL SIO: One of several heart-warming sidelights as the member of the Warriors’ 2013 NYC grand final side starred in the win. Sio was a workhorse with 11 runs for 105 metres, 21 tackles without a miss and high involvement on attack with 20 passes – including putting Vasuvulagi over for the last try with a flat ball from dummy-half. The compact 29-year-old journeyman wouldn’t look out of place in first grade. 7


14 ZYON MAIU’U: The 19-year-old is dripping with wrecking-ball potential and caused the Tigers constant headaches. Good work-rate with 22 tackles and 71 metres on seven carries – and proved difficult to bring down every time. Highly regarded Te Atatu junior who inked a three-year deal with the Warriors back in 2021. 7

15 SANELE AUKUSITINO: Starred on the wing for Manly’s Jersey Flegg team last year and made a decent impression against the Tigers with a few willing carries. 5.5

16 ALI LEIATAUA: A couple of very strong charges from the nephew and namesake of Ali Lauitiiti. 5

17 JACOB LABAN: Mark this dude down for an NRL debut sometime in 2023. The Wellington junior doesn’t turn 19 until April but churned through 33 tackles (no misses) and 98 metres and three tackle-breaks from 10 runs. Great prospect who was signed to a three-year deal by the Warriors in 2021 and starred for Redcliffe’s 20s team last season. 7 

18 MOALA GRAHAM-TAUFA: Big unit on the flank and produced a great finish to score in the corner in the 73rd minute. Still only 20, Graham-Taufa played one NRL game for the Roosters in 2021 but wasn’t used in first grade by the Eels last season. 6 

20 KALANI GOING: Going by name, goer by nature. Hungry for work in the back-row and chalked up 66 metres from six runs after being injected off the bench. A Taniwhas rep in recent seasons from the famous Northland rugby union clan, he has  played NYC with the Raiders, NSW Cup with Mounties and Queensland Cup with Tweed Heads. 6 

21 EIDEN ACKLAND: The veteran of 28 NYC games enjoyed a memorable return to the jersey, steering the Warriors around during the latter stages and laying on Graham-Taufa’s try with a beautiful rainbow pass. Easy to see how he was named the Fox Memorial’s best and fairest in 2022. 6.5

22 BEN FARR: Rockhampton product Farr has spent the past few seasons at Wynnum Manly. The blonde-haired 21-year-old back looked handy out wide, busting a couple of tackles and chalking up 36 metres from three runs. 5.5

23 ISAIAH VAGANA: Son of Joe and a Warriors Jersey Flegg Player and Junior Kiwi in 2019, Vagana looked like he has a bit to offer with 42 metres on four carries. 5.5

24 SOLOMON VASUVULAGI: The Glenora Bears hulk made the most of his opportunity, chewing off 60 metres from six runs and powering over under the posts from short range for the Warriors’ final try. 6.5

25 PAUL ROACHE: Nate’s little bro gave good service from dummy-half during the second stanza. 5

Facebook Comments Box
Become a Patron!

Categories: Previews + Reviews, WARRIORS NEWS

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: