Round 1: Warriors v Titans preview
Renewed hope to be tested for two clubs
New Warriors coach Nathan Brown will face his first test this week as his side comes up against fellow up and comers the Titans at Central Coast Stadium. The opinion of most is that these sides have been two of the best in their off-season recruitment sprees and it will be intriguing to see how they fair, as well as who comes out on top in arguably the most exciting game of this weekend's action.
For the Warriors Addin Fonua-Blake, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Euan Aitken headline the new players in their squad. The men from across the Tasman have also added the likes Bayley Sironen and Kane Evans to bolster their playing stocks. Meanwhile, anticipation will be rife to see stars David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui in their first NRL hit out in Titans colours. Herman Ese'ese, Sam McIntyre and Patrick Herbert are also new additions to the club.
With the confirmation coming earlier in the week that they again will be based in Australia until at least June, the Warriors must show us all that resilience we all admired throughout 2020. They will be looking to make an early statement in this one against one of the sides expected to improve the most this season.
The Titans on the other hand, have expectations to live up to this year- a challenge the club has not faced in years. With a number of star recruits and a coach with potential to put it all together, early questions could begin to heap the pressure on the young squad if they don't show signs of further improvement.
In team news, new recruit Euan Aitken will make his club debut for the Warriors at centre. Fellow newcomers Addin Fonua-Blake, Bayley Sironen and Ben Murdoch-Masila are also in the team- starting at front-row, second-row and off the bench respectively. They will also welcome hooker Wayde Egan, who was previously in doubt for the match with injury. His touted hooking replacement Jazz Tevaga will instead start from the interchange.
The Titans have too named a number of new additions to their squad in this round one clash. Patrick Herbert will start in the centres. Fresh star duo David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui will start at second-row and lock respectively. In other team news, Jarrod Wallace starts at prop as he looks to turn his underwhelming 2020 form around. Tyrone Peachey will start from the bench in the utility role and Phillip Sami has not made the seventeen, with Corey Thompson instead grabbing the wing spot.
Last meeting: Round 9 2020 - Titans 16 Warriors 12
Who to watch: Wayde Egan's importance to the Warriors' success this season cannot be understated. With new forward recruits Addin Fonua-Blake and Ben Murdoch-Masila adding a large amount of size to the Warriors' forward pack, as well as some familiar faces like Tohu Harris and Eliesa Katoa, Egan will need to select when to run and pass successfully. It will be expected that the Warriors pack can get them over the advantage line, so look for whether Egan is able to take proper action on the back of this.
The damaging new signings of David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui will have AJ Brimson licking his lips ahead of season 2021. No doubt you can expect a number of tackle breaks and line breaks from these two. Look for the speedy Brimson to be pushing up in support looking for an offload or even a pass on the inside from a line break.
The favourite: The Titans are favourites to take out this mouth-watering clash.
My tip: I'm of the opinion that the Titans will go the better of the two sides this season, but this game should be a tight one. The result greatly depends on if the Titans can start to put it together early or whether it will take some time for their new game plans to click. The Warriors will no doubt put up a good fight and show us some improvement from last season. For me though, it's Titans by 8.
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