You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Why Aitken's future may be in the second row

Warriors coach Nathan Brown will talk to Euan Aitken during the off-season about the virtues of playing a similar role for the club as Penrith and Queensland utility Kurt Capewell after making a successful transition from centre to second row in recent weeks.

Aitken's preferred position is centre but he has agreed to play second row for the remainder of the season and the Warriors coaching staff believe he can have a similar impact to Capewell, or the likes of Tonie Carroll and Shaun Timmins, who enhanced their careers by shifting into the forwards.

The 26-year-old has scored three tries in his two appearances in the second row as the Warriors recorded narrow back-to-back wins over Wests Tigers and Cronulla, and he will play there against Canterbury on Sunday.

Former St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor believed that Aitken's future may be in the second row and Warriors assistant coach Justin Morgan said he, Brown and Craig Hodges shared that view but the Scotland international had only reluctantly agreed to the move.

"Some of the key characteristics you need to play well in the back row are to be a good defender, which Euan has proven that he is in the NRL for a long period of time, and you need good leg speed, which he has got," Warriors assistant coach Justin Morgan said.

Aitken shrugging off defenders at will

"He is one of the best defensive centres in the game so if he moves a little bit closer to the ruck that makes it somewhat easier. He is also very fit and very well-conditioned.

"I know that Brownie has had a conversation with him about how we need him to play there this year, we will get through the rest of the season and we will re-assess based on the balance of our squad.

"It is just something we will deal with this year and then no doubt the coach and Euan will sit down and duke it out in the off-season in terms of where he wants to be."

Capewell has alternated throughout his NRL career between second row and centre and his versatility has ensured he is one of the first players picked for Queensland in the past two State of Origin series.

Carroll and Timmins began their respective careers with the Broncos and Dragons in the centres but finished in the back row, and they also made the transition at Origin and Test level.

"If you think about some of the good utilities over the years who have been able to play back row and centre, it is only going to play into Euan's favour over time if he can play both positions well," Morgan said.

"If you can have someone who can flip between the back row and centre during the game you can use it tactically or you might decide to have a strike-type second-rower on your bench.

"Kurt Capewell obviously does it in State of Origin and for Penrith, and I think back to a guy like Tonie Carroll, who was able to play both positions effectively, and to have versatility in your team is a huge advantage."

Aitken swats away Nofoaluma

With Tohu Harris (knee) and Ben Murdoch-Masila (foot) ruled out for the season, the Warriors' back row stocks are depleted by Aitken and Josh Curran have stepped up to fill the void in recent weeks.

The pair recently returned after being forced to quarantine for 14 days as close contacts of an airline steward on their flight from the Gold Coast to Sydney during the NRL bye weekend who tested positive to COVID-19.

"I am really proud of the way Josh and Euan have bounced back from that adversity," Morgan said. "Josh is a natural footballer and he has worked hard on parts of his game that he needs to improve."

The Warriors welcome back hooker Wayde Egan from a shoulder injury for the match against the Warriors, with Jazz Tevaga moving to lock.

Warriors v Bulldogs - Round 22

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

Principal Partner

Major Partners

Official Sponsors

View All Partners