THE LONG HARD LOOK WITH MIKE WILSON
NRL ROUND 18 PREVIEW
NZ Warriors v Gold Coast Titans
Mt Smart Stadium, 8.30pm (NZ Local Time)
Warriors: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Lewis Brown, Shaun Berrigan, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Aaron Heremaia, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Micheal Luck. Interchange (from): Lance Hohaia, Sam Rapira, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor, Steve Rapira.
Titans: Jordan Rankin, Steve Michaels, Clinton Toopi, Esi Tonga, David Mead, William Zillman, Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Michael Henderson, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison. Interchange (from): Matt White, Brenton Lawrence, Greg Bird, Bodene Thompson, Luke O’Dwyer.
It’s no scoop that the Titans are in struggle town, and the same goes for the fact that it’s never a fun task taking on the Warriors in New Zealand. But if there is one thing going for the Gold Coast boys it’s that the Warriors may be in the midst of a confidence crisis. They have posted 4 straight losses and their last win was against the Rabbitohs in round 11 (12-6) and they are only averaging 11 points a game. And as far as recent history goes the Titans have won the last two encounters played in New Zealand and 6 of the last 7 overall. Could we be about see a big upset?
I’d like to think yes but on the flip side exciting young halfback prospect Shaun Johnson has been named for the Warriors and I can’t wait to see how he performs.
The Titans have named an extended bench which includes forward Brenton Lawrence who made a solid debut off the bench for the Titans 2 weeks ago playing 28 minutes and averaging over 10 metres per hit-up. If he gets a nod in the first 17, look to him for a solid effort.
Mike’s Best Bet: None
(Team lists sourced from nrl.com.au)