Hohaia not too upset by demotion - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hohaia not too upset by demotion

By Todd Balym & Xavier La Canna 23/09/2008 07:48:07 PM Comments (0)

Disappointed New Zealand Test star Lance Hohaia will embrace his demotion to the bench after making way for returning Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon for the NRL preliminary final.

Hohaia was dumped to an extended six-man bench for Saturday's clash with Manly after coach Ivan Cleary decided to rush McKinnon straight back into the winning team following his completion of a three-match suspension.

McKinnon has missed the Warriors' glorious finals charge for spitting at a touch judge but replaces a red-hot Hohaia, who scored a double in last week's win over the Sydney Roosters.

Hohaia said he was comfortable with his move to the bench, despite admitting he struggled with the role earlier in the year.

"I am a little disappointed but I sort of expected Wade to be back in the side once he was available to play," said Hohaia.

"The coach knows I am happy to come off the bench and play pretty much wherever he wants me to.

"It is something that I have become used to. At the start when I was being moved around positions it was a little frustrating.

"I wasn't too sure about what sort of role I played within the team but I am pretty comfortable with it now and I am looking forward to the weekend."

Hohaia has been a standout in their two recent wins over Melbourne and the Roosters and says the only thing that will change for him this week will be an increased workload in defence when he replaces Ian Henderson at hooker.

"That is one area I will probably have to get my head around and make sure that I am being aggressive in tackles," he said.

Halfback Grant Rovelli will be one of the unlucky players to drop off the bench along with a forward.

Cleary said it wasn't tough to demote Hohaia and recall McKinnon.

"Not really to be honest. It is all about picking the best team each week and I have picked the best team for this game as well," said Cleary.

"Wade is the best fullback we have got in the club. Having Lance being able to add to us off the bench, I feel like the team has been strengthened. It is never hard to strengthen a team."

Skipper Steve Price felt for Hohaia.

"If Lance wasn't the best player last week, he was certainly the second best," said Price.

"It is just a true testament to the guy. He is playing the role that the coach wants him to play."

Cleary wouldn't be drawn on whether McKinnon had to control his emotions better in the finals despite his frequent run-ins with officials.

"Wade has been hurting for the last few weeks ... he will do his absolute best for the team this week without doubt," he said.

Manly have made no changes to the team which beat St George Illawarra two weeks ago, with Adam Cuthbertson 18th man again.

Melbourne executed two changes, with Test back-rowers Ryan Hoffman (ankle) and Jeremy Smith (suspension) replaced in the 17-man team by Scott Anderson and Aiden Tolman for Friday's clash with Cronulla.

There could be a third change if skipper Cameron Smith is banned for two games by the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night for a grapple tackle.

Sika Manu moves to the starting line-up with Anderson and Tolman added to the interchange.

Anderson, 22, has played just six NRL games this year and eight in total while Tolman, 19, has also played just six games in 2008 in his debut season.

Both have won just two of their six NRL games this year and are coming off last-start losses.

Anderson last played in the Storm's qualifying final loss to the Warriors while Tolman played in the round-25 defeat to Newcastle.

Cronulla confirmed Blake Green will start at five-eighth for the injured Brett Seymour (knee) while Terence Seu Seu returns to an extended six-man bench including Grant Millington and Mitch Brown.

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