Honouring Stan Carpenter...
36 hours ago
Lance Hohaia will make his return to the New Zealand Warriors after a month out with a groin strain against the toughest team in the NRL competition on Saturday but his coach has no worries the teenager can handle the job.
"I've got no doubts about him whatsoever," Daniel Anderson said after picking Hohaia to start against the Bulldogs.
But because Anderson did not have enough time to study video, analyse the opposition and plot their downfall since returning from Penrith, he has named a six-man bench.
Among those is back utility David Myles, who hasn't played since round six against the Bulldogs in Wellington.
Centre Vinnie Anderson is still a chance but wasn't named. He has a foot injury and tests were still needed.
If it was clear, he might play, Anderson said.
The Bulldogs' centres feature highly on the try-scoring lists and Anderson will want his namesake back for his big defence.
Prop Richard Villasanti has been ruled out for a month with a knee injury but his absence is compensated for with the return of Wairangi Koopu from a foot injury.
The visitors have lost their five-eighth Braith Anasta to a broken thumb, with Queenslander Jonathon Thurston to start after a handful of games from the bench.
Kiwi centre Willie Talau returns after three weeks out with a shoulder injury and Origin prop Mark O'Meley is back after missing eight games with a broken jaw.
The Bulldogs attack is widespread ? former Warrior Nigel Vagana leads the NRL in touchdowns with 17, Willie Talau has 11, with national team wing prospect Matt Utai and NZ-born Aussie rep Willie Mason each with nine.
The Warriors' scoring spread is even wider, Clinton Toopi club's best and one down from Vagana with 16, then Ali Lauiti'iti and Brent Webb nine each, Stacey Jones and Hohaia seven.
The Bulldogs staff say the 17-win streak ? two off the all-time record ? is not troubling the team. But they feel every other club is getting up to their best against them.
In the last two encounters between the sides, Bulldogs' home games played in Wellington, the Warriors have allowed them too good a start.
Bad starts have been the problem lately. They have let in an average five tries over their last four games.
But Anderson would have to be happy with the fact their 604 points is most scored by any team. The Bulldogs, Broncos and Knights are hovering around 20 points behind.
New Zealand Warriors: Ivan Cleary, Henry Fa'afili, John Carlaw, Clinton Toopi, Francis Meli, Lance Hohaia, Stacey Jones (capt), Jerry Seuseu, P.J. Marsh, Mark Tookey, Ali Lauiti'iti, Awen Guttenbeil, Kevin Campion;
Interchange: Brent Webb, Motu Tony, Wairangi Koopu, Logan Swann, Justin Morgan, David Myles.