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Warriors halves watching their back

13/03/2009 02:35:31 PM Comments (0)

The Warriors power-packed halves duo of Nathan Fien and Joel Moon will be watching their backs for different reasons in the NRL opener against Parramatta in Auckland on Saturday.

Fien, the star performer from the Kiwi's winning 2008 World Cup season, will be the first to don the No.7 jersey for the team, an honour he says he's "thrilled" to get.

But looking over his shoulder will be the Warriors new star recruit, legendary halfback Stacey Jones, who has come out of retirement on a one-year contract to play for his old team but will sit out round one with a calf injury.

"I know the competition in the halves is very tough, and it's tough right across the squad," Fien said.

"I just have to get out there and do the job and I'm confident I can."

His offsider, ex-Broncos player Moon, will be making his debut with the Warriors and says he's wary of the challenge posed by his Eels opposite, a newly bulked-up Jarryd Hayne.

"I played him in the lower grades and he's always been one of the threats," Moon said.

"He's an exciting player and he's strong and fast so pretty dangerous."

The five-eighth is upbeat about his new partnership, praising Fien's tight control in the key position.

"Fieny is a good organiser and I like playing with a halfback that can talk good and lead the boys around the field well," Moon said.

Meanwhile, Warriors coach Ivan Cleary acknowledges the team is feeling under pressure to perform in 2009, especially with the return of Jones, renewed depth to the team, a Kiwi World Cup win and a good performance in the second half of the last NRL season.

Australian bookmakers rated the Warriors third favourites for an NRL win after they won all three trial games, with short odds to beat Parramatta.

But Cleary warned the Eels, under the direction of former Warriors coach Daniel Anderson, had also won their pre-season matches and would be trying to improve on their 2008 performance.

"They're probably keen to make up for something from last year so we'll be facing a pretty determined outfit on Saturday with a hell of a lot of talent in there as well," Cleary said.

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