Warriors aim to be slicker from kick-off - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors aim to be slicker from kick-off

By Robert Lowe 01/05/2008 04:08:24 PM Comments (0)

The New Zealand Warriors want to arrest a recent trend and be fast out of the blocks on Sunday when they defend their unbeaten home record in the NRL.

The Warriors, who host the Canberra Raiders, are back at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium after two successive weekends in Queensland.

Both trips brought defeats - to North Queensland and competition leaders Gold Coast - and on both occasions they allowed the opposition to jump out to an early two-try advantage.

Lock Micheal Luck said the slow starts were an area of concern for the Warriors, who have lost all four of their away matches this season, but have won all three at home.

He felt they had played some good football against the Titans and looked the better side at times, but the early handicap they gave themselves was too much to overcome.

"That's been our main problem in the last couple of weeks," he said.

"There were just a few little lapses in the first 15 minutes and they slipped out to a lead and then you're always on the back foot."

With both club skipper Steve Price and vice-captain Ruben Wiki out with injury, Luck will assume the captaincy for the second successive week.

Canberra have a similar record to the Warriors, with three wins from six matches.

They welcome back lock and skipper Alan Tongue and hooker Lincoln Withers from injury, the pair having missed the Raiders' gutsy loss to premiers Melbourne last weekend.

Tongue will be making his 150th NRL appearance, all with the one club.

Canberra also have halfback Todd Carney and centre Joel Monaghan backing up from representing Country in the NSW Origin match against City on Friday night.

If they come through that match unscathed, Carney and Monaghan will travel to Auckland on the same flight as the Raiders' under-20 side.

For Luck, 26, the upcoming fixture will be his 58th successive NRL appearance since joining the Warriors.

The unbroken sequence is all the more remarkable given his work rate.

There is also a touch of irony about his feat this week, with the Warriors in the midst of an injury crisis and having to call up 18-year-old prop Russell Packer from their under-20 side.

Luck did not have any real explanation for his durability apart from being able to live up to his name.

"Good luck is as much to do with it as anything, especially when you see the injuries that some guys get - they're so unlucky," he said.

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