John­son steps in to fill boots of ab­sent cap­tain

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

War­riors have blown most ex­pec­ta­tions out of the wa­ter so far but the War­riors coach knows his side must im­prove to stay in the top four head­ing into the fi­nals.

‘‘The last half a dozen weeks we’ve sort of been up and down and a bit in­con­sis­tent in terms of our per­for­mance,’’ Kear­ney said.

Blair said defence was a crit­i­cal area if the War­riors are to con­trol Manly’s bulky pack led by Ki­wis test star Marty Tau­pau.

‘‘We’ve been work­ing re­ally hard de­fen­sively as a group, es­pe­cially for our mid­dle, I guess those are our jobs and our work ons,’’ Blair said.

He said the War­riors mid­dle must bring com­mu­ni­ca­tion, en­ergy and trust their de­fen­sive struc­tures and pro­cesses to con­trol the likes of Tau­pau and Ad­din Fonua-Blake.

To­day’s con­test is cru­cial for both teams. The War­riors need to win to stay in the top four and Manly need a win to stay in touch with the top eight.

As the War­riors were deal­ing with the loss of Tuiv­asa-Sheck, Manly have been given a lift with the news that Jake and Tom Tr­bo­je­vic will back up af­ter play­ing in New South Wales’ 22-12 State of Ori­gin vic­tory over Queens­land on Wed­nes­day night.

PHOTOSPORT

Roger Tuiv­asa-Sheck rests his an­kle dur­ing the loss to the Rab­bitohs.

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