Six Warriors NRL players, including Manu Vatuvei and Ben Matulino, have been dumped from first grade over an apparent late night out after their 42-0 Anzac Day thrashing by the Storm in Melbourne.
Bodene Thompson, Albert Vete, Sam Lisone and Konrad Hurrell have also been dropped for Sunday’s match against St George Illawarra in Auckland.
Coach Andrew McFadden says the six failed to meet team standards in the wake of the hammering by the Storm and had been demoted to the NSW Cup.
“We’ve dealt with this internally after questioning the players involved and won’t be going into any details,” he said.
Media reports say the group went out on Tuesday night until the early hours and some of the players were then late to a team meeting on Wednesday morning.
Vatuvei, Matulino and Thompson were originally named in the starting 13 to face the Dragons, while Vete and Lisone were listed on the bench.
They will now play in the curtain-raiser against Canterbury’s NSW Cup team.
Sione Lousi, John Palavi and Matt Allwood have been recalled to the NRL squad, while 21-year-old Toafofoa Sipley has also been added and is in line to make his first-grade debut.
While McFadden has named 17 players, he will wait until an hour before kickoff before confirming his run-on side.
Going into the latest round, McFadden’s selection options had already been compromised by injury to star signing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, New Zealand and former club skipper Simon Mannering and Tuimoala Lolohea.
Tuivasa-Sheck (knee) had his season ended the previous week during the win over the Bulldogs.
His replacement at fullback Lolohea (knee) and Mannering (facial wound) both went off against Melbourne.
The defeat to the Storm was the Warriors’ fifth loss in eight matches this season and dropped them to 13th on the table.
On Thursday, skipper Ryan Hoffman had spoken about the need for players to improve the way they prepared themselves for matches.
He said the team had readied well, “but individually, we’re not preparing ourselves to be competitive in the NRL”.
“At the moment, it needs to be very internal focused on the individual to make sure we’re getting prepared mentally and physically to be tough football players on the weekend.”
Warriors squad: David Fusitua, Jonathan Wright, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Ryan Hoffman (capt), Charlie Gubb, Jazz Tevaga, Shaun Lane, James Gavet, Sione Lousi, Matt Allwood, John Palavi, Toafofoa Sipley.