Shaun Johnson and consistency key for Warriors success against Panthers in NRL play-off - Jamie Soward

Former New South Wales and Panthers half Jamie Soward believes the Warriors have got the goods to create an upset over his former side Penrith come Saturday in Sydney.

The Warriors have had 15 wins and nine losses in the NRL this year. 

Soward said New Zealand's consistency throughout the 2018 season has been the key to their success in making the top eight in the NRL.

"They have been able to be consistent enough with their offloads and also play that style of football (second phase) that has been able to keep them in games," Soward told NRL.com.

"Their kick chase, look Shaun Johnson is going to be important, Blake Green coming back from injury he helps them as well."

Penrith went down to the New Zealand club 36-16 in Auckland, the last time they played in round 24 in August.

"They are certainly a dangerous side and their form in Australia has been great this year too."

Warriors half Shaun Johnson hasn't played in the NRL play-offs since 2011, when the Warriors lost in the grand final against Manly 24-10.

Soward says Johnson will have a big part to play in the Warriors' play-off match against Penrith.

"He (Johnson) needs to go to another level though, if they are to cause an upset this week, come to Australia and compete for a premiership.

"Shaun Johnson has all the talent in the world, he's won a Golden Boot. He's been involved in a New Zealand (Kiwis) side that has been successful.

"But for me this year has been his best year because he has been more consistent throughout the year."

Parramatta Eels star Clint Gutherson says the Warriors unpredictability will cause the Panthers headaches in their Saturday clash.

"You don't know when they (Warriors) are going to turn up, you don't know what they are going to do," Gutherson told NRL.com.

"But when they do (turn up), they are the best team in the comp."

The Warriors play the Panthers at 7.30pm on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

The Warriors have also had a solid record on the road this year, winning 8 of 12 games on Australian soil.

Shaun Johnson.
NRL Premiership rugby league. Vodafone Warriors v Penrith Panthers. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. Friday 24 August 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Shaun Johnson. Source: Photosport



'We went away from game plan' - Warriors women eager to bounce back in must win Broncos match

The Warriors women face a tough task ahead of them tomorrow night, as they come up against premiership leaders the Brisbane Broncos in Melbourne in a must win match to keep their finals hopes alive.

Warriors hooker Krystal Rota says her team have learned from their Dragons 22-10 loss in Sydney last week and that her side need to return to what worked for them in their round one win over the Roosters.

"I just think we went away from game plan," said Rota.

"The first game we stuck to our game plan and defensive structures, when we played the Dragons we went away from that and obviously it didn't work for us."

The Warriors have to win tomorrow night's game by a big margin, to secure themselves a spot in next week's grand final.

Onjeurlina Leiataua on attack. Roosters v Warriors, NRL Holden Women's Premiership.  ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 8th Sept 2018. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Warriors women player Onjeurlina Leiataua on attack against the Sydney Roosters. Source: Photosport


The Brisbane Broncos women are undefeated in the competition and are guaranteed a spot in the final.

Warriors hooker Krystal Rota believes her side will learn from their 22-10 loss to the Dragons as they prepare for Brisbane tomorrow night in Melbourne. Source: Te Karere

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves says Roosters in fine form without enforcer Dylan Napa ahead of NRL finals

The numbers show Jared Waerea-Hargreaves won't rest without front-row starting partner Dylan Napa, but the Sydney Roosters hard man insists it's not a one-man job to uphold a perfect record without the Queenslander this year.

The Roosters will play without Napa for a third straight game in Saturday night's grand-final qualifier against South Sydney, after he was suspended last month for the knock out blow on Brisbane's Andrew McCullough.

Having battled injuries both during and after Queensland's State of Origin campaign before the latest suspension, Napa has missed six games this year - of which the Roosters have won all six.

And he largely has Waerea-Hargreaves to thank for it up front.

The Kiwi prop's top three running games this year have all come while Napa has been missing for either all or the majority of those games, including his herculean 215-metre effort against Penrith in round 15 when his Queensland front row partner had left the field early.

But he maintained it wasn't just he who had stood up this year during any absence in the pack.

"Obviously when you have players like Napa, Sio Siua (Taukeiaho), Zane (Tetevano) in the team with experience, you share the workload," he said.

"When you get these younger boys and they don't play as much time, obviously statistically you are going to do more work because you are out there longer.

"But we have guys in the team like (bench forwards) Lindsay (Collins), (Nat) Butcher and Ryan Matterson that I've really enjoyed their growth this year."

"To see them grow with the confidence they have now 26 rounds in, you build that relationship and trust."

Waerea-Hargreaves and the Roosters' pack have had their help too in terms of the territorial battle.

Cooper Cronk is ranked second in the league for average kick metres, while the 688 metres he booted against Cronulla in week one of the finals was the most by any player in any game this year according to Fox Sports Stats.

Blake Ferguson and James Tedesco are also the NRL's two leading metre-eaters in the competition this year, while Daniel Tupou is ranked sixth to make for the best running and most powerful back three in the NRL to kickstart their sets.

"For myself and Fergo we just love doing it," Tupou said.

"We know it helps the forwards out and puts them on the front foot.

"That helps out not just the forwards but the whole team, especially with Cooper and his kicking game."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 18: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves runs the ball during a Sydney Roosters NRL training session at Kippax Lake Oval on September 18, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves runs the ball during a Sydney Roosters NRL training session at Kippax Lake Oval in Sydney. Source: Getty


Topics
NRL

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

'The public's only heard one side of the story' - Bunnies coach defends Sam Burgess over ongoing sexting scandal

South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold says people will soon be able to make up their mind on the sexting scandal that has embroiled Sam Burgess, claiming they had only heard one side of the story.

Seibold was also adamant the off-field controversy had only made the Rabbitohs tougher ahead of Saturday night's NRL preliminary final against Sydney Roosters.

The NRL integrity unit's probe into allegations lewd images were sent to a young woman from one of Burgess' social media accounts are expected to conclude by Thursday despite reports of a setback.

An emotional Burgess addressed the scandal on Tuesday, repeatedly saying he would be "happy for the truth to come out" without going into specifics.

Seibold echoed Burgess' thoughts after saluting his team's resilience for overcoming the off-field distraction in their dramatic 13-12 semi-final win over St George Illawarra.

The allegations were made public on the eve of the Rabbitohs' clash with the Dragons although the alleged incident occurred back in May.

"The public has only heard one side of the story," Seibold told Sky Sports Radio.

"The investigation will hopefully conclude today or tomorrow and then people can make up their own mind on the story that has been out there.

"Obviously it wasn't ideal having the club on the front page and being the lead story on most of the news agencies across the country on Friday and Saturday last week but I thought the guys showed a lot of resolve."

The Rabbitohs may be expecting a verdict before the grand final qualifier however reports suggest the NRL's investigation hit a snag.

Fairfax reported the woman at the centre of the allegations had refused to speak with investigators from both the Rabbitohs and the NRL when contacted while on holiday in South Africa.

Either way, Seibold said the ongoing scandal compounded by back to back one point finals finishes had only steeled his side ahead of their clash with the minor premiers.

South Sydney No.7 Adam Reynolds' three field goals helped the Rabbitohs pull off a stunning one point win over the Dragons a week after falling short 29-28 to Melbourne in a qualifying final.

"I think the hard football is making us tougher," Seibold said.

"And we've shown we can handle pressure. I think we have shown a lot of resolve and resilience.

"We are not fatigued by any means. We are really confident heading into the Roosters game."

Sam Burgess of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Source: Photosport


Topics
NRL


Panthers set to stick with stand-in coach Cameron Ciraldo for 2019 NRL season

Penrith are set to install Cameron Ciraldo as head coach for next year's NRL as they continue to be linked to Ivan Cleary in the long term.

Panthers boss Phil Gould suggested that Ciraldo would remain in charge in 2019 after guiding the Panthers through the final six weeks in a caretaker capacity.

The 33-year-old was handed the reins after Anthony Griffin's sacking four weeks out from the finals and Gould said the club had no reason to bring in anyone else.

"I don't see any need to change anything we've been doing for the last five or six weeks," Gould said on the Six Tackles with Gus podcast.

"I've been very impressed with Cameron Ciraldo and the academy staff and we threw everything in our academy at the NRL preparation.

"They did an outstanding job, I was really impressed with them."

Ciraldo is contracted for next season after serving as an assistant under Griffin.

On Wednesday it was reported that the club's board had rubber-stamped his ascension to the top job on a full-time basis.

The club's move to oust Griffin so late in the season resulted in speculation Cleary was set to exit the Wests Tigers, with two years still to run on his contract.

Cleary stated his promise to "honour" his deal with the joint venture, however, has since refused to answer questions.

It's believed that the Panthers are readying to offer Cleary the role for 2021 - which is viewed by many as an attempt by Penrith to force the Tigers' hand and release him.

Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe has been contacted for comment though the club has, until this point, flatly refused to entertain the idea of Cleary leaving early.

NRL clubs are not allowed to negotiate with players more than 12 months before their contract expires.

The NRL said that chief operating officer Nick Weeks was set to examine a request from some clubs to alter the laws governing coaching negotiations so that they be brought in line with those that regulate player rules.

Gould denied any knowledge of any negotiations between Cleary and his club.

"I have nothing to do with the Ivan Cleary situation at all," he said.

A return to the Penrith job, from which he was axed in 2015, would allow Cleary to team up with his son Nathan, who is expected to sign a rich multi-year contract extension.

The NSW playmaker has reportedly been offered a lucrative deal until the end of 2023 and has stated his desire to sort out his future in the next few weeks.

The 20-year-old returned to Panthers headquarters on Tuesday and Gould said he was confident of getting an agreement over the line.

"No confirmation but I'm confident we'll get a deal done and he'll be at Panthers for a fair while," he said.

Nathan Cleary. Vodafone Warriors v Penrith Panthers, Round 19 of the 2017 NRL Rugby League Premiership season at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. 14 July 2017. Copyright photo: Renee McKay / www.photosport.nz
Panthers half Nathan Cleary in action against the Warriors. Source: Photosport


Topics
NRL