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The first edition of TWL’s rebranded Kingz Container Crew Warriors Player Ratings is unfortunately a less than enjoyable one to put together after an exasperating 26-22 loss to the shorthanded Broncos in Napier. But there was still a few elite individual displays and encouraging efforts dotted among the perplexing performances.

1 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD: Another mighty outing from one of the NRL’s most reliable and hardworking custodians. Clean-up work was outstanding all night, racked up 237 metres (73 post-contact) on 20 carries – despite spending 14 minutes off the field for an HIA – and recorded a game-high 10 tackle-breaks, while he had a hand in DWZ’s first and charged over for his own try to spark a late revival. 8.5

2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK: Saw three tryscoring chances of varying difficulty slip through his grasp in the first half before finally diving in for the Warriors’ opener and finished with a double. But the best feature of one of his better performances in a Warriors jumper was his hell-for-leather ball-running out of his own end, finishing with 20 runs for 227 metres, eight tackle-breaks and three line-breaks. Very safe at the back, too. 8

3 ROCCO BERRY: Not quite a breakout performance, but arguably Rocco’s best in 17 NRL appearances to date. Disappointing to flub an early tryscoring chance when he’d done so well to grab a bomb, but neatly sent DWZ over for his first try, had another line-break assist, did his bit from a yardage perspective (nine runs for 114 metres) and made 20 tackles with no misses in a tricky match-up with Herbie Farnworth. Enough to keep Wiliame and Vailea at bay for now…still needs more to prevent Kosi from coming back into the side when fit. Still struggling a bit to run good lines off Johnson. 7

4 ADAM POMPEY: So close to being the hero…but wasn’t that match-deciding passage of play in the dying seconds just A. Pompey in a nutshell? Brilliantly sent Montoya over to keep the Warriors alive and replicated that play to seemingly square the scoreboard at the death, but a brainless jersey-grab spoiled a potential match-winner. It was one of two penalties he gave away on the night, but he made 100 running metres and defended Kotoni Staggs pretty well. Clearly gifted, but will probably always be frustrating. 6

5 MARCELO MONTOYA: Scored one late try in fine fashion, almost had the last-gasp equaliser, ran for 160 metres on 17 carries and recorded six tackle-breaks. But it’s hard to look past a shocking error that handed an 80-metre runaway try to opposing winger Mariner (who finished with a double), while he also made another error. Not worth throwing the baby out with the bathwater, of course – he’s as hearty as they come – but that was a bad, bad moment. 6

6 LUKE METCALF: Promising start but the evening got less and less favourable by the ultra-hyped (including by TWL) club debutant. Looked very dangerous when he put the hammer down – particularly in the first half – and had 96 running metres but seemed caught in two minds regularly, was (somewhat understandably) disjointed with his fellow left-edge players and his wayward pass led to Mariner’s runaway try. Made 23 tackles, including a couple of important one-on-ones, but was an obvious target for the Broncos ball-runners, including when Jordan Riki dragged him over the tryline with ease. Stripped of the ball twice in the last 15 minutes (though the second was in a two-man tackle that should have been challenged; instead he was credited with an error). Good to see another kicking option but had a mixed game in that department, too. Will need rapid improvement to have any chance of keeping a fit Te Maire Martin out of the side. 5.5

7 SHAUN JOHNSON: Comfortably SJ’s least effective performance in a stellar, otherwise super-consistent season so far. Unlucky to not have a try-assist or two early with the boot, but his kicking game was overwhelmingly disappointing thereafter with some poor options and worse execution. Had a hand in three tries – including a sublime double-touch set-up of DWZ’s second – but didn’t do enough to take ownership of the offence, and finished last in the team for run metres with 13 when opposite number and fellow veteran Reynolds was have a field day taking on the line. Solid defensively, as per in 2023. 6

8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE: An absolute behemoth in 68 minutes on the park. A game-high 260 runs (including a huge 107 post-contact) from 20 carries, seven tackle-breaks, two offloads, did some ball-playing and made 29 tackles (21 in the first half) with no misses. Absolute top-shelf. 8.5

9 FREDDY LUSSICK: A forward pass in the opening minutes set the tone for a dummy-half display that lacked the finesse, crispness and guile of Egan. Made five runs (including getting held up from a run out of acting half) and 30 tackles in 47 minutes before (is it wrong to say irresponsibly?) sprinting out of the defensive line and copping a head knock that ruled him out of the game. 5.5

10 BUNTY AFOA: Just three hit-ups in his opening 21-minute stint but much busier in his 16-minute second dig to finish with 100 metres on eight carries and made 26 tackles without a miss. Decent. 6.5

11 JACKSON FORD: An error (a bad one) and a penalty – a customary return for the wholehearted, hectic second-rower – along with 11 runs for 119 metres and 36 tackles (8 misses). Not bad, not great. 6.5

12 MARATA NIUKORE: Good shift from the big unit, looking likely running off SJ all night and eventually piercing the line to link back up with his halfback to set up Dallin’s second-half try. Made 12 runs for 124 metres and 24 tackles in 64 minutes. 7

13 TOHU HARRIS: Let’s get the negative out of the way: the miss on Reynolds as he set up Mam’s crucial try was awful and so un-Tohu-like. Otherwise an utter workhorse yet again, playing the full 80 and making a game-high 21 runs (for 208 metres) and team-high 39 tackles. Stepped up as a ball-player with 15 passes, creating the odd half-chance. 7.5


14 BAYLEY SIRONEN: Played the last 33 minutes at hooker and was satisfactory – it’s not on him that he’s a little unsuited for the role. Three runs, 21 tackles and a superb try-assist for Charnze, just a tad slow for dummy-half. 6

15 JOSH CURRAN: Solid 59-minute display off the bench, toiling for 33 tackles and making six runs for 60 metres as well as two offloads, looking to have a bit more spark than most Warriors on the night. 7

16 DEMITRIC SIFAKULA: Got 13 minutes off the pine but the most notable impact he made was giving away a penalty. Two runs, six tackles. Back to NSW Cup for a bit to continue his development is probably for the best. 4.5

17 TOM ALE: Can’t overlook what was a terribly ordinary and crucial cold drop of the first hit-up from the kick-off after the Warriors had belatedly scored their first try. The Broncos scored (albeit unfairly) just before the break and the Warriors were playing catch-up from that point. Otherwise good impact on both sides of the ball: 10 runs for 120 metres (42 post-contact) and 20 tackles without a miss in 31 minutes. 6.5


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