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17 hours ago - 6 Likes
New Zealand Warriors coach Ivan Cleary has responded to his side's heavy NRL loss to North Queensland by making three changes for Sunday's clash with the Gold Coast.
The Warriors are in need of urgent improvement against the Titans at Skilled Park after their 48-20 thumping by the Cowboys last Saturday.
Veteran back rower Wairangi Koopu, winger Michael Crockett and centre Ryan Shortland have been recalled for the match against the competition leaders.
Shortland made way for Jerome Ropati against North Queensland night but he comes straight back into the side for his third match this year because Ropati is sidelined again with a hamstring injury.
Crockett, who scored seven tries in 14 NRL appearances last year, is set to play his first match of the year for the Warriors after scoring five tries in six games for the Auckland Vulcans in the NSW Cup.
He comes in for Patrick Ah Van, who suffered a heavy knock against North Queensland.
Koopu, used against Manly on March 31 in his only previous NRL match this year, comes on to the bench for Sonny Fai.
"It's a blow that Jerome's been injured again but we've seen what Ryan can do so it's a comfort being able to call on him," Cleary said.
"Patrick's not quite right and that gives Michael a shot.
"He's been working for it in the NSW Cup and again we're able to bring in a player with some experience and one who also has a good tryscoring record."
The Warriors are still searching for their first away win this year after a run of decisive losses to Melbourne, Manly and North Queensland.
They face a Gold Coast side who have won all four matches at their new ground to help them to the outright lead in the competition.
"Obviously our away form is a concern for us," Cleary said.
"We've had three very good wins at home but we haven't really caused our opponents much trouble on the road. That has to change."
The Warriors beat the Titans 22-6 at Gold Coast Stadium last June.