Warriors select young rake in Hayne's return
RUGBY LEAGUE: Twenty-year-old Nathaniel Roache could carry the Warriors NRL finals hopes on his young shoulders after being called up by coach Andrew McFadden to cover for injured hooker Issac Luke against the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium tomorrow.
Luke, whom many believe is the key to getting the Warriors forwards rolling with his unique dummy-half play, will have knee surgery early next week to repair a torn meniscus suffered late in the win against Penrith.
Roache, a star in the Junior Warriors 2014 NYC title win against the Brisbane Broncos, has played seven NRL games this year, filling in for Luke.
While the 90kg Aucklander has played centre, five-eighth and halfback, McFadden has converted him to hooker because of his speed, passing skills and running ability.
The Titans plan to play their superstar signing Jarryd Hayne off the bench, which has guaranteed the Warriors will walk into a huge home crowd, if not a sell-out, certainly the biggest of the season.
The Titans are on course to contest the club's first finals since 2010 and Hayne's surprise signing has generated a real buzz on the Gold Coast with the club urging fans to snap up their tickets to avoid long queues.
Tiitans boss Graeme Annesley said despite reports the game was a sell-out there were still tickets left for fans to buy.
"We are expecting a massive crowd this week and are tracking towards our biggest crowd of the season, however for people who haven't purchased their tickets yet there are still some available,” he said.
"Since announcing Hayne's signing earlier in the week, we have seen a significant increase in ticket sales for Sunday's match, so we are encouraging people to buy their tickets online.”
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson said Hayne would not be at his best but would not take time to find his feet.
"He's a real athlete and if he plays he will give the Titans an x-factor,” he said.
McFadden said the Warriors would prepare as if Hayne were playing, which would require studying some old video since he hadn't played league since 2014.
"That's a big boost for them. He's obviously a very good player. He hasn't played for a while but he's the sort of player that does handle that sort of pressure and he'll make a big difference for them.” he said.
McFadden said Hayne's recent unsuccessful tilt at making the Fijian rugby sevens side for the Rio Olympics meant he would be more advanced in condition than some people might think.
"He would have trained really hard for the sevens and that would have helped with his fitness and skill levels,” he said.