NRL: Webster explains why he backs Martin for Warriors halves duty

Warriors coach Andrew Webster has opted for Te Maire Martin to partner Shaun Johnson this weekend, despite a strong showing from utility Chanel Harris-Tavita in their 20-12 win over the Knights. The ninth-placed Warriors head to Sydney for the first time this season, where they face the Rabbitohs on Saturday afternoon at Accor Stadium.

Webster said that the selection was “about balance”.

“(We’re) making sure we’ve got the best 17, and Chanel knows his role in the team,” Webster said.

“Te Maire, last year, competed unbelievably for us. First six games of last year we were rapt, then he got a freak incident where he broke his leg. He’s been working really hard in reserve grade.”

The make up of the interchange bench is yet to be finalised, however, Webster did confirm that Dylan Walker will not be playing. That opens the door for Harris-Tavita to come into the side, given that he can cover hooker, half and lock.

“I thought Chanel did really well in that utility role, he can play anywhere,” said Webster.

“We have to make sure we don’t lose that.”

The situation comes after Luke Metcalf sustained a fracture in his leg after a tackle by Tyson Frizell in Sunday’s win, a cruelly ironic twist given that was what ruled Martin out of a large chunk of last season and gave Metcalf a number of impressive performances.

“You feel for someone, but you’ve just got to move on. Footy’s a crap game like that,” admitted Webster.

Meanwhile, their opponents for Saturday might have gotten off to a poor start to the 2024 season, but Webster is not taking the Rabbitohs lightly – especially since they haven’t beaten them since 2017.

“Souths have been a dominant club for the last 10 years, so I think they’ve got that record against a few clubs. We’re trying to change our identity and not be that club anymore, but history doesn’t matter. I think they’re a great team, they haven’t quite pieced it together but you saw in parts on the weekend that they can. I think we’re going to face more shifts on the weekend… they just got so many good players.”

Warriors captain Tohu Harris was quick to point out the danger posed by the likes of Latrell Mitchell and new signing Jack Wighton.

“You give them a little bit of space, they’ll kill anyone. They’ll tear teams apart and they have the ability to do it themselves – they’re not players who have to rely on anyone else setting them up. They can create something out of nothing.”

Webster was adamant the Warriors weren’t getting too far ahead of themselves despite two gutsy wins in a row.

“Three in a row is not the thing we’re chasing. We’re chasing another win, we won today and we’re gonna go away from footy till then weekend and try and win again… we’ve learned consistency is everything.”

Rabbitohs v Warriors

Kickoff: 5pm Saturday April 6

Accor Stadium, Sydney

Live blog updates on RNZ Sport

Warriors: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Mitchell Barnett 11. Jackson Ford 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Freddy Lussick 15. Tom Ale 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Jazz Tevaga

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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