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Bye week couldn’t have been better-timed for the One New Zealand Warriors after their demanding series of gruelling contests and constant challenges with personnel over the previous four weeks.

It started disappointingly with the first of three games in Australia against the Knights on May 5 – when the weather was ordinary at best – and finished gloriously back home at last with a heroic performance to topple the fourth-placed Dolphins.

Across four games – the Roosters and Panthers in between – the list of unavailable players grew exponentially to the point the Warriors had 10 of their top squad unavailable for the Magic Round match against Penrith and then 11 against the Dolphins including having two players ruled out on game day.

Not forgetting in the matches against Penrith and the Dolphins they were down to 16 players in the opening minutes after losing starting hookers Wayde Egan and Paul Roache.

By kick-off last Sunday, the Warriors were unable to call on their two first-choice fullbacks, three of their four centres, two of their four halves and four regular starting forwards.

Match Highlights: Famous win over premiers

The impact of the sheer volume of absentees was so significant that a total of 27 players were used with just two filling the same role in each of the four games – Jackson Ford in the second row and Tom Ale on the interchange.

In all only seven players appeared in each of the games while there were also three different captains:

  • Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was on the wing for the first three games and at fullback against the Dolphins.
  • Te Maire Martin started at standoff against the Knights and Roosters then halfback against the Panthers and Dolphins.
  • Mitchell Barnett started at prop against the Knights and in the second row for the next three games.
  • Bunty Afoa was on the interchange against the Knights, then started in the front row against the Roosters, Panthers and Dolphins.
  • Second rower Jackson Ford started on the right edge in all four games.
  • Dylan Walker was on the interchange against the Knights and Roosters, then started at loose forward against the Panthers and Dolphins.
  • Tom Ale was on the interchange for each game.

v Knights

v Roosters

v Panthers

v Dolphins

Nicoll-Klokstad Nicoll-Klokstad Tuaupiki Watene-Zelezniak
Watene-Zelezniak Watene-Zelezniak Watene-Zelezniak Kosi
Berry Berry Leiataua Moala-Taufa
Tuivasa-Sheck Pompey Pompey Pompey
Montoya Kosi Montoya Montoya
Martin Martin Nicoll-Klokstad Harris-Tavita
Johnson Johnson Martin Martin
Fonua-Blake Fonua-Blake Fonua-Blake Niukore
Egan Lussick Egan (c) Roache
Barnett Afoa Afoa Afoa
Ford Ford Ford Ford
Capewell Barnett Barnett Barnett (c)
Harris (c) Harris (c) Walker Walker
Interchange: Interchange: Interchange: Interchange:
Walker Walker Tevaga Lussick
Ale Ale Ale Ale
Afoa Egan Laban Tevaga
Pompey (not used) Tevaga Roache Laban


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.

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