'We'll be used to having some key individuals out' - depleted Warriors ready to cope with absence of international stars

Blake Green believes the Warriors will cope when their squad gets hit hard by the looming international rugby league weekend.

The fourth-placed Auckland club will field a team at close to full strength for Friday night's NRL clash with North Queensland in Townsville, with only captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (ankle) in doubt.

It all changes two weeks later when the Warriors host Cronulla and are expected to be without numerous first-choice players.

They shape as the club taking the biggest hit from international duty, with up to 17 of their squad being potential Test players on June 23.

Seven of them might be on Kiwi duty against England in the United States, while 10 could be involved in the Samoa-Tonga clash on the same day in Sydney.

Coach Stephen Kearney has said he won't consider selecting any Kiwis involved in the Denver Test for the Cronulla clash five days later.

That would shred the backline of talent. Tuivasa-Sheck, Peta Hiku, Gerard Beale and Shaun Johnson are all contenders to be named on Sunday night in New Zealand coach Michael Maguire's squad.

Australian playmaker Green believed the Warriors had built sufficient depth to be competitive with a weakened side.

"We've had a bit of practice this year of having some key people missing," he said.

"Roger and Shaun have missed some footy so we'll be used to having some key individuals out.

"We've put ourselves in a position where lots of people in our squad have experienced first-grade footy."

Green accepts he is likely to be a key figure against the Sharks but won't change his game.

"It's the same every week - it doesn't really change too much," he said.

"We've seen in the past that (half) Mason Lino's come in and done a good job when he's had to fill in."

Potential Warriors Internationals:

NZ: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Peta Hiku, Gerard Beale, Shaun Johnson, Adam Blair, Tohu Harris, Issac Luke.

Tonga: David Fusitu'a, Solomone Kata, Albert Vete, Agnatius Paasi.

Samoa: Ken Maumalo, Mason Lino, James Gavet, Bunty Afoa, Sam Lisone, Jazz Tevaga.

David Fusitu'a scores a try during the New Zealand Warriors and North Queensland Cowboys NRL game at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on April 7th 2018. 

Copyright photo; Peter Meecham/ www.photosport.nz
David Fusitu'a scores a try during the New Zealand Warriors and North Queensland Cowboys NRL game at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland. Source: Photosport


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Bulldogs trying to force former Kiwis star Kieran Foran to retire on medical grounds - report

Former Warriors and Kiwis playmaker Kieran Foran's career could be over, with a report surfacing that his current NRL club are attempting to retire the halfback on medical grounds.

NINE reports the Bulldogs are hoping to retire Foran, who is currently sidelined for at least a month with a toe injury as well carrying a neck-shoulder issue, on medical grounds to free up salary cap space.

Foran was signed by former coach Des Hasler last year for a three-year, approximately $1 million a season contract while he was still at the Warriors, where injuries also plagued his season with the Kiwi club.

NINE reports Foran has also been hampered by off-field problems - one of the driving reasons Foran left the Warriors to sign with the Sydney club was to be closer to his children.

Should the NRL agree to allow Foran to be retired by the club, he would still get the money he is contractually-obliged to but his $1 million wage would not be including in the Bulldogs' 2019 salary cap, giving them plenty of breathing space to recruit a replacement and other NRL stars. 

In 12 appearances this season, Foran has assisted one try, scored one of his own, converted four goals and currently averages 61.7 running metres a game.

Kieran Foran.
Kieran Foran. Source: NRL


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Adam Blair will embrace 'senior leader' role in captainless Kiwis, says coach Michael Maguire

Adam Blair will embrace his "senior leader" role with New Zealand and heed the lessons of last year's Rugby League World Cup catastrophe when they face England next week.

In one of the more confusing appointments in recent Kiwis history, new coach Michael Maguire confirmed his team will have no captain for the June 23 Test in Denver, Colorado.

He wants leadership to grow organically out of what will be a young playing group, with Blair acting as an unofficial skipper.

Maguire's left-field announcement on Tuesday came about an hour after Blair fronted a Warriors club media session.

Reporters were unaware of the veteran forward's pending status and neither, seemingly, was Blair, who claimed he had only liaised briefly with Maguire since the coach took charge last month.

"I've spoken to him briefly about where I stand. It was more about, 'was I up for selection?' and stuff like that."

"(Captaincy) was a tough thing. I enjoyed it. It was a massive learning curve," he said.

"It's something I've learned from the experience and be better for it."

Blair looks set to lead a green international group onto Mile High Stadium.

Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino and Russell Packer have confirmed their international retirements while Jesse Bromwich, Jordan Rapana, Benji Marshall, Kieran Foran and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck are senior players to have suffered untimely injuries.

The rushed and messy nature of New Zealand's preparations were underlined by Blair's surprise when informed Matulino and Packer had hung up their representative boots.

"I thought those guys had a fair time left in the Kiwis jersey to be honest so it's come as a surprise and a shock to me," he said.

"They've been playing some good footy. I'm a bit speechless there."

Blair believed Maguire still had ample Kiwi talent to pick from in the NRL which would allow the coach to stamp his mark.

"He can instil what he wants in the group of boys and play his part in growing a group of men.

"There's some great kids out there for sure who will be the future of the New Zealand team. The Test match coming up will be a chance to bleed them into the system."

Adam Blair tried his best to keep his composure during a post-match interview after his side’s 4-2 loss in Wellington. Source: 1 NEWS


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