NRL TRIAL | Another chance for Allwood
Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden has promised Matthew Allwood a final chance to push for inclusion in the team for the NRL's opening round when he names a near full-strength team for the trial against Penrith in Rotorua next Saturday.
As the final trial ahead of the club's 2015 campaign McFadden is preparing to name his strongest possible squad to face the Panthers but there remain plenty of contenders for the vacant left centre spot.
Recruited from the Raiders in the off-season, Allwood is vying with Ngani Laumape, Glen Fisiiahi, Dominique Peyroux and David Fusitua for the right to partner Manu Vatuvei on the Vodafone Warriors' left flank with Konrad Hurrell the standout candidate at right centre.
Although he started Saturday night's trial loss to the Titans at fullback, Allwood displayed some dazzling footwork when shifted to left centre in the second half and McFadden said he is very much in line for selection for the season opener against the Knights in Newcastle.
"We'll take him to Rotorua next weekend, he just needs some footy," McFadden said of Allwood, who played 11 top grade games with the Raiders last season.
"He hasn't had a lot of opportunity to play footy with us and with our team so [Saturday night] was about giving him a good hit-out and I reckon he'll be ready to go for next week.
"Ngani Laumape has trained the house down this pre-season, Glen Fisiiahi will be coming back early in the season, David Fusitu'a, so we've got a number of options. It's going to be very competitive for those last few positions.
"Obviously if Konrad's fit and he's working hard – and he is, he's working really hard – he'll have that right centre spot so it's really someone to partner Manu up on that left side that we're really looking for. They're all going for it at the moment.
"We'll go as strong as we can this week. That's our only real first grade trial so we'll definitely put a very solid team out."
The most impressive performer for the Vodafone Warriors in their 12-22 loss was prop forward Nathaniel Peteru on the comeback trail from a knee reconstruction.
Currently only on a 'train and trial' contract, the towering 23-year-old is hoping to receive an upgraded second-tier contract for the 2015 season and impressed McFadden with his powerful charges through the middle of the ruck.
"He was excellent. He's had a knee reconstruction last year so he's missed most of the end of last season," McFadden explained.
"He was on the brink of playing first grade [last year] so he's come back in terrific shape and he'll only get better from that.
"You need these guys, it's a tough season, 26 rounds, and you need strong depth right through all positions so having these guys step up is pretty positive."
Despite the 10-point defeat McFadden was pleased with how his inexperienced outfit performed and how they upheld the standards he is trying to establish across the entire organisation.
"It was a great opportunity for us. The Titans had some pretty seasoned first-graders there and had a bit more experience than us and we had a couple of young kids, as they did," McFadden said.
"It was a good opportunity for them to test themselves against some quality opposition.
"We definitely want to have the same sort of playing model right through the whole organisation, it certainly helps with the transition. Not necessarily around how they attack but just some real fundamental play and standards which is the word we want right across the board.
"I thought physically we were pretty aggressive and there was a lot to like about it, even though we lost."
- This story was first published on www.nrl.com