Two losses in the lower grades for Aotearoa Warriors to go with the NRL team's loss and overall, it's been a rough start to the season for the club as the Jersey Flegg team are sitting 10th (of 14) and the reserves are 11th (of 12). This is food for the doom and gloom merchants, however I'm not convinced that this trend will flow throughout the entire season and view it as a case of the early season woes.
There are a few changes for the Canterbury Cup team, who take on Mounties in Canberra on Sunday. Mounties are top of the table and are the only team yet to lose a game, making this an interesting gauge of what the reserves can offer and we've again got Hayze Perham chopping between halves and fullback. That could be viewed as a factor for the Warriors mediocre form with the spine always changing, sometimes reflecting the NRL team's play-making situation and then it's sometimes a case of Perham sliding between half and fullback. Perham was named in the halves for the first three rounds, then a move to fullback last week and now returns to the halves.
This week Perham partners Adam Keighran, with the victim being Api Pewhairangi who has been named on the bench. Patrick Herbert is on the cusp of NRL footy and in a mark of his quality, Herbert has been used at centre and fullback this season, named to start at fullback for the trip to Canberra.
Fullback: Patrick Herbert.
Wings: Edward Kosi, Lewis Soosemea.
Centres: Taane Milne, Adam Pompey.
Halves: Adam Keighran, Hayze Perham.
Middles: Chris Satae, Preston Riki, Leivaha Pulu.
Edges: Blake Ayshford, Ligi Sao.
Hookers: Karl Lawton.
Bench: Clayton Williams, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Paulos Latu, Api Pewhairangi - Sam Cook, Cole Waaka.
Taane Milne moves from edge forward to centre and we also have Ligi Sao named to start on an edge to fill Milne's vacant spot. Despite losing last week, there were a few Warriors named in the Team of the Week; Adam Pompey at centre and Leivaha Pulu on the bench. I also want to highlight young middle forward Preston Riki, who has moved from the bench to start and has rolled out some impressive stats in the last two weeks...
vs Panthers: 42mins, 13runs/125m, 5 tackle busts.
vs Rabbitohs: 57mins, 9runs/115m, 5 tackle busts.
Remember that Riki was the Jersey Flegg MVP last season for the Warriors and is now thriving in reserve grade. While others like Chris Satae, Ligi Sao and Leivaha Pulu appear ahead of Riki in the pecking order, Riki is the young middle forward prospect to keep an eye on as we move throughout the season.
I also made the boo-boo last week of confusing the two Tuimavave-Gerrards, with Adam in the reserves and Emanuel in Flegg. I said last week that Emanuel was named in both teams, but it's Adam named on the bench for the reserves, with Emanuel enjoying steady selection on the wing in Flegg. Adam had initially been with the Warriors, before a stint on the Brisbane Broncos fringes with Wynnum Manly Seagulls and he's now returned to Mt Smart.
Here are some Warriors highlights in the Canterbury Cup stats...
Tries: Adam Pompey 3rd=.
Line Engaged: Hayze Perham 3rd.
Offloads: Leivaha Pulu 2nd, Hayze Perham 4th.
In Jersey Flegg, everything is nicely settled and even more so with Phillip Makatoa and Tom Ale appearing to settle in Flegg footy. Both have been moving between the two teams and will get more opportunities in reserves this season, but with a reasonably solid rotation in reserves now and then someone like Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard coming back into the mix, Makatoa and Ale are the youngsters who drop back into Flegg.
Fullback: William Fakatoumafi.
Wings: Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard, Harley Maynard.
Centres: Patrick Elia, Kayal Iro.
Halves: Paul Turner, Sione Moala.
Middles: Wesley Veikoso, Phillip Makatoa, Tyler Slade.
Edges: Brody Tamarua, Tom Ale.
Hooker: Sean Mullany.
Bench: Casey Smith, Isaiah Vagana, Jyris Glamuzina, Neyla Masima - Temple Kalepo.
The halves Paul Turner and Sione Moala get another crack together and Casey Smith must be doing something right as he still gets a bench spot as the utility. This pushes Temple Kalepo out of the top-17 and having both Makatoa and Ale in the starting line up, results in Caleb Pese and Michael Lemafa dropping out. Injuries could of course be a factor, but it feels like there is a natural sorting process that happens when the likes of Makatoa and Ale slide back to Flegg.
This also points to the regard in which different lads are held by Flegg coach Greg Boulous. With a lack of visibility and stats, it's hard for me to come to any grand conclusions about players in the Flegg squad, but among all the changes in the forward pack, someone like Jyris Glamuzina has steadily been on the bench and that's damn impressive considering he's still under 18s eligible; Glamuzina, Caleb Pese, Temple Kalepo, Sione Moala and William Fakatoumafi were all named in the Aotearoa Residents U18 wider squad.
You'd expect the younger lads to make way for more senior lads, which has happened to some extent with the likes of Pese and Kalepo. Glamuzina remains though, as does Neyla Masima who got his first crack last week and must be viewed as a talented prospect to keep his bench spot.
Mullany played 26 minutes for reserves last weekend and while he wasn't overly dynamic with 4runs/24m, he had 17 tackles with 1 missed. For a Flegg lad moving up to reserves, playing at hooker, that's a decent effort
Hit an ad to support the Diary Of An Aotearoa Warriors Fan.
Or even better, if you appreciate this coverage of the entire Aotearoa Warriors club, support the Niche Cache on Patreon. This is the best way to show us your appreciation.
Peace and love 27.