Anderson Faces Familiar Problem

New Zealand Warriors' coach Daniel Anderson has a familiar puzzle to solve after the Monty Betham National Rugby League (NRL) injury saga took another twist during the Brisbane Broncos 28-20 victory at Suncorp Stadium yesterday.

How to fill the hooking berth for the Warriors has been a regular issue since PJ Marsh suffered a career-threatening neck injury last year.

Betham's suspected broken right arm, coupled with Tevita Latu's on-going health problems, means the crucial dummy-half role is up for grabs again when St George Illawarra visit Ericsson Stadium on Saturday.

Betham, a former amateur boxer, peeled away in pain after his forearm connected with the head of Brisbane prop Petero Civonicena in the 24th minute.

He was treated in a local hospital after the game and will undergo further assessment when the Warriors arrive back in Auckland later today.

Betham could be sidelined for several weeks, adding another chapter to a string of injuries that forced him to miss the Warriors' inaugural play-offs campaign in 2001 and the grand final loss the following year.

Anderson felt for his skipper.

"It's unlucky. He puts himself in a position to get injured because he gets into the game. If you hang back you don't get injured," Anderson said.

The inexperienced Thomas Leuluai, who scored the Warriors fourth try to narrow the gap to 20-22, filled in for Betham yesterday but Anderson would not be drawn on whether the specialist five-eighth would be called on to deputise.

"Who knows? We'll decide later in the week."

Marsh's anticipated comeback from neck surgery has been delayed while Latu, who proved an adequate and energetic replacement for the Queensland State of Origin rake, is also off the pace after contracting TB.

"He hasn't trained in any shape of form for about a month.

"Basically his liver was exposed out of his ribcage so he couldn't train because he couldn't get a knock on it."

Latu still tried "to sneak into training" but that was not an option as he still required a medical clearance.

Former North Queensland Cowboy Paul Dezolt, an Italian international, is an option after being brought in as cover for Marsh and Latu a fortnight ago.

"You'd say he probably wasn't up to first grade speed but there's been bigger asks," Anderson said.

"He's played two trials. We bought him as a professional hooker who can start games."

Anderson did confirm second rower Awen Guttenbeil could captain the Warriors' in Betham's absence.

"He captained the side last year when Monty was out and he's got good leadership credentials. Stacey (Jones) also has a good rapport with the refs."

Meanwhile, Anderson blamed a crippling error count for the Warriors failing to kick-on from a Brent Webb double inside seven minutes.

Turnovers mounted as the Broncos amassed 22 unanswered points before Francis Meli and Leuluai raised the prospect of a Warriors' comeback with two tries in four minutes.

However, new Broncos centre Shaun Berrigan had the final say, with his second try in the 73rd final enough to confirm the Broncos first NRL win since July and their first over the Warriors in three years.

Coach Daniel Anderson urged the team to play "two-hand" football in muggy and wet conditions but they continued to push miracle balls.

"We were arrogant with our ball control. We've got no excuses.

The Warriors completed just 20 of 41 sets as their cavalier style was punished in trying conditions.

The Warriors' may also encounter problems at the judiciary this week after second rower Sione Faumuina was placed on report by referee Sean Hamstead following a lifting tackle on wing Stu Kelly.

0 Comments