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Mitch Barnett is tackled. Penrith Panthers v New Zealand Warriors. NRL Rugby League Finals, BlueBet Stadium, Penrith, NSW, Australia, Saturday 9th September 2023. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / Photo: David Neilson

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Warriors v Panthers

Kick-off: 3:50pm, Sunday 19th May

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Live blog updates on RNZ Sport

Just when you thought things could not get any more difficult for the Warriors, they face their toughest prospect yet, taking on three-time defending premiers, the Penrith Panthers. The Panthers find themselves without star halfback and arguably the best player in the game Nathan Cleary, but they are looking to make it five wins in a row, meanwhile the Warriors are deep in an injury crisis.

Coach of the Warriors Andrew Webster speaks at the press conference. Sydney Roosters v One New Zealand Warriors. Photo: Jeremy Ng/Photosport

Here's a look at the teams:

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Warriors: 1. Taine Tuapiki 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Ali Leiataua 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Charnze Nicoll-Kolkstad 7. Te Maire Martin 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Jackson Ford 12. Mitchell Barnett 14. Dylan Walker

Interchange: 15. Tom Ale 16. Jazz Tevaga 17. Jacob Laban 21. Paul Roache

Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 4. Taylor May 5. Brian To'o 6. Jack Cole 7. Jarome Luai 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Luke Garner 12. Liam Martin 13. Isiah Yeo (C)

Interchange: 14. Daine Laurie 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Matthew Eisenhuth 17. Mavrik Geyer

Warriors selections

Photo: NRL Photos

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The medical team at Mt Smart must be working overtime this season, as another week passes and the Warriors' injury toll grows higher and higher. Missing this week: Shaun Johnson, Rocco Berry Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Luke Metcalf, Kurt Capewell, Freddy Lussick, Marata Niukore and Tohu Harris. Taine Tuaupiki comes back in as fullback, Charbze Niccol-Klokstad shifts to five-eighth, Te Maire Martin at halfback, Ali Leiataua and Adam Pompey line up the centres as Marcelo Montoya has been named on the wing. Mitch Barnett lines up in the second row again with Bunty Afoa in the starting prop role, with promising future prospect Jacob Laban being included on the bench.

Panthers selections

Jarome Luai of the Panthers celebrates a try. Photo: Dave Hunt /

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Nathan Cleary is side-lined with a recurring hamstring injury, so he is replaced by Jack Cole, which means that Jarome Luai is in the halfback role. Playing in the shadow of Cleary for most of his career, Luai will be out with a serious point to prove that he is not just a one-trick pony and looking to prove that he can lead a team to victory without him. Matt Eisenhuth and former Wests Tiger Daine Laurie have been added to the bench.

Past results

Warriors 6 - 18 Panthers

Warriors 0 - 14 Panthers

The last time these sides met at Magic Round the officiating caused such a stink that One NZ CEO Jason Paris got himself in hot water for tweeting just what he thought of the calls. He was censured and forced to apologise by the NRL, but it didn't do much to make up for the 18-6 loss.

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As for the second clash against the Panthers in 2023, it will be one the Warriors will want to delete from their memories. With Shaun Johnson side-lined with a calf injury, Nathan Cleary proved why he is the best player in the world, putting on an absolute masterclass and carving The Warriors 32-6.


Another week and another miracle will be required to get the Warriors' season back on track. With no Freddy Lussick this week, Wayde Egan's workload needs to be managed very carefully, allowing him to provide that spark the team desperately needs on offence without him getting bogged down on defence making tackles.

It is basically as simple as it sounds: control the ball, run it up the guts and minimise errors and penalties. Webster needs to make serious use of his bench this week after having carefully bled some of the younger players such as Laban and Ale into first grade over the past 12 months. If they can achieve this, then the Warriors can set up a good platform to work from that will let the team find themselves in a position to compete.

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Winning the game out wide will be crucial, as they face one of the most dangerous groups of outside backs in the competition.

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