Warriors looking for change of fortune in unhappy hunting ground

Author
Christopher Reive,
Section
League,
Publish Date
Thursday, 16 May 2019, 3:54PM
Kodi Nikorima was solid on debut for the Warriors. (Photo / Photosport)
Kodi Nikorima was solid on debut for the Warriors. (Photo / Photosport)

Having failed to fire early in the season, the Penrith Panthers are looking for answers. But while they flounder near the foot of the ladder without a win in their last five games, Stacey Jones isn't counting out a resurgence starting this week against the Warriors.

The Warriors assistant coach said the side was wary of what the Panthers were capable of, particularly on home soil, despite the side only scoring an average of 13 points per game so far this year.

"We've got plenty of people who have been around this game for a long time who know when teams are under pressure they come out and perform," Jones said. "We're a team that needs to perform, we need to be consistent, and so we can't focus too much on them."

The foot of the mountains hasn't historically been a happy hunting ground for the Warriors, who haven't won at Panthers Stadium since a 30-16 victory in 2012. In their last five matches at the ground they've been outscored 180-54, with their scoring kept in single figures three times.

The Warriors have had their own struggles through the early part of the season, with their three wins just one more than the Panthers. They are, however, looking to string back to back wins together and have taken a light approach to preparation.

Jones said hooker Nathaniel Roache, forward Tohu Harris and utility Jazz Tevaga were all tracking well from their respective injuries and after Thursday's captain's run he was confident all three would be ready to go on Friday.

"Obviously our [final] squad hasn't been confirmed yet but we're hopeful they'll be alright to go," Jones said. "It's a funny business this game; it was only a few weeks ago where we thought we'd have a 17 go out then someone gets injured in captain's run.

"All the bodies that are named are okay so hopefully that's the team that goes out on the field."

Against the Panthers, the battle of the halves will be an anticipated one as Blake Green and Kodi Nikorima square off against Nathan Cleary and James Maloney who led New South Wales to the State of Origin title last year.

Nikorima settled in nicely in his Warriors debut last weekend, and Jones said his addition from the Broncos could only benefit the Warriors.

"With Kodi coming on board it adds more depth to the squad and it's good to have that competition and everyone feeling that pressure where they do have to play consistently.

"It was pretty short and quick him coming over here. The plays we run are very similar to what every other team runs, we just have a different spin on it or different names so it's just him getting comfortable with that and once he finds his feet some more here we can spend more time and develop better relationships."

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