NZ Herald

15 Jun, 2024 08:14 AM4 mins to read

Eliesa Katoa scored to get the Storm on the board against the Warriors. Photo / Photosport

Warriors game - Figure 1
Photo New Zealand Herald

The Warriors host the Melbourne Storm as they look to make it three wins in a row.

Shaun Johnson has been named as halfback for the Warriors’ sold-out clash with the competition-leading Melbourne Storm on Saturday night at Go Media Mt Smart Stadium.

Johnson’s inclusion season sees Te Maire Martin, who has been impressive at halfback in the last three games, moving to five-eighth. Chanel Harris-Tavita, who wore the number 6 jersey against the Dolphins and North Queensland has been named on the interchange.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been named in the reserves but is unlikely to get on the park, targeting the June 22 clash against the Gold Coast Titans for his return.

Webster says although Tuivasa-Sheck, who also hasn’t played since round 10 after picking up a hamstring injury, is nearing a return, the club wanted to keep him sidelined for another week.

“We’re going to probably give Roger one more week just with some reps. I think he did like four reps with the team last week – he’s been doing small drills and training but hasn’t done any of our big ones. We’ll name him in the 22 just in case but we’ll just make sure we get plenty of reps into him.”

The Warriors have won three in a row, beating defending champions the Penrith Panthers, the Redcliffe Dolphins and the North Queensland Cowboys following a five-game winless streak – and the return of Johnson couldn’t come at a better time.

The Warriors last defeated the Storm on July 12, 2015, winning 28-14 at home in one of the most unforgettable games in the club’s history; highlighted by Nathan Friend’s amazing upside-down, between-the-legs pass that led to a Tuimoala Lolohea try.

That streak nearly ended on March 16 when the two sides met in Melbourne but the visitors were denied victory in the 79th minute by one of the greatest tries ever.

With mere seconds on the clock, Xavier Coates threw himself at the tryline as Dallin Watene-Zelezniak hustled to cover and made a decent effort to force the Storm winger into touch but Coates was not to be denied. Launching from about 6m short of the line, Coates absorbed the attempt from Watene-Zelezniak and contorted his body to score one of the greatest match-winners you could hope to see, lifting Melbourne to a 30-26 win.

Webster says he has plenty of respect for the Storm and praised the club for being able to be at the top of the NRL for so long.

“I feel like their club’s built on values that they won’t take for granted. They’ve done it for so long but whoever’s been the next man up, you watch their big four leave and then the next thing it’s [Ryan] Papenhuyzen, it’s [Cameron] Munster, it’s [Jahrome] Hughes, it’s [Harry] Grant – they’re pretty good for substitutes to keep carrying the torch for the club.”

Hooker Wayde Egan says the Warriors must restrict the likes of Grant and Hughes.

“Guys like that, you can’t give them any opportunities [because] they’ll take it and [the Storm can] score from anywhere on the field,” Egan says.

“[The round two match] was a really good performance by us – I think at the time we sort of felt like we should have won that game. I wasn’t playing but watching at home and I felt like the boys were all over them in the second half and it was a very disappointing one to take. I think we can take a lot of confidence out of what we did down in Melbourne and take it into this week at home.”

Warriors side to face Storm

1-Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2-Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 3-Rocco Berry, 4-Adam Pompey, 5-Marcelo Montoya, 6-Te Maire Martin, 7-Shaun Johnson, 8-Addin Fonua-Blake, 9-Wayde Egan, 10-Jackson Ford, 11-Marata Niukore, 12-Mitch Barnett, 13-Tohu Harris

Interchange: 14-Chanel Harris-Tavita, 15-Dylan Walker, 16-Jazz Tevaga, 17-Kurt Capewell, 18-Tom Ale, 20-Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 21-Taine Tuaupiki, 22-Freddy Lussick, 23-Jacob Laban

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