Warriors get shake-up as they eye 2010 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors get shake-up as they eye 2010

By Tamara McLean 08/08/2009 02:51:32 PM Comments (0)

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary is hoping the old adage "a change is as good as a holiday" rings true as he gives his beleaguered Kiwi side a massive shake-up to take on the Titans.

This year's NRL trophy might have slipped out of reach for the 14th-placed team but far from giving the game away, Cleary is looking to spice it up with a raft of rookies to take on the comfortably-placed Gold Coast in Auckland on Sunday.

He has replaced four of last week's starters, no doubt in the hope of avoiding a repeat of the embarrassing 32-32 draw against Penrith which the Warriors gave away after holding a stunning 26-point lead.

But Cleary admits he's also got one eye on next year, especially in playing the team's most exciting youngster Kevin Locke in his favoured fullback spot, replacing Wade McKinnon who was stood down after turning up late for training.

Locke, who has shone on the wing since his debut, says he's "dying to get out there" in the number one jersey, but has had an attack of the guilts about McKinnon's fate.

"I was his roomie so all the boys have been a bit hard on me, saying 'you didn't want him to wake up so you could take his spot this week'," said the 20-year-old, who has been named in a Kiwis train-on squad for the Four Nations tour.

"So it is quite hard. I feel a bit of guilt. I tried to wake him up but he told me to go away."

Unheralded recruit Lewis Brown will also get a chance in his favoured role of hooker having impressed in the back row, while Aaron Heremaia and debutant Elijah Taylor step into dummy half and centre respectively.

"I guess it's finding a balance between answering a few questions in your head and still making sure it doesn't jeopardise your chance to win," Cleary said to explain his major reshuffle.

But many commentators believe the new line-up is an improvement on last week's, and gives the frustrated Warriors a decent chance of showing the third-placed Titans what they're made of, if somewhat belatedly.

The Gold Coasters will be wanting to prove a point of their own after losing 34-18 to North Queensland last weekend, ruining their unbeaten record at home.

The game will see two of rugby league's most experienced playmakers, Titans halfback Scott Prince and veteran Warriors No.7 Stacey Jones, come head to head for the last time.

Jones, 32, a league legend who returned on a one-year contact, announced on last Sunday he would not extend.

To plug the gap, Warriors management have signed Melbourne utility James Maloney and sacked Cronulla halfback Brett Seymour, who has been disgraced by a string of alcohol-related off-field indiscretions.

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