An already beat-up New Zealand Warriors side will most likely be without the services of star prop Addin Fonua-Blake on Friday when they take on the Manly Sea Eagles.
The Warriors’ marquee off-season signing limped off with an unspecified knee injury in the 14th minute of the team’s 32-12 loss to the Roosters on Sunday evening and coach Nathan Brown isn’t optimistic about his chances of being ready to take the field again in five days.
“It’s highly unlikely in such a short turnaround,” said Brown. “I don’t know how it is, got to hope it is only a minor one and he doesn’t miss too much. We’ve got a few blokes wounded.”
The loss of Fonua-Blake would not only deny the Warriors some crucial forward momentum – his ability to rack up post-contact metres and offload the ball are top shelf – it also denies league fans the chance to see the big man’s first clash with his old club since signing with the Warriors.
That move looks to have been a wise one by Fonua-Blake with the Sea Eagles languishing at the bottom of the ladder, winless after four matches and averaging just 8.5 points per game.
The fact the Manly side is also coming off its worst home defeat in history – a 46-6 drubbing at the hands of the Penrith Panthers – and is facing fresh injuries to Morgan Boyle and Moses Suli means the Warriors’ task is somewhat easier, but there would also be nothing worse than tripping up against a team no doubt determined to bounce back.
Warriors coach Nathan Brown says he’s generally satisfied with the side’s performance over the first month of the season but knows the learning curve remains steep.
“We’ve had four games, two good wins and two losses,” said Brown following the loss to the Roosters. “It was a very tight one against the Knights, probably 50-50, but today we got beaten by a good side. They certainly showed we have some work to do to get to where we want to get to.”
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