Warriors not overreacting ahead of NQ bout

New Zealand are staying the course for their must-win NRL encounter with North Queensland despite last week’s pasting by South Sydney.

The Warriors were comprehensively outplayed through the middle by the lowly Rabbitohs and then pinned back by the kicking game of halfback Adam Reynolds when they got their own chance with the ball.

The 41-22 home turf defeat came after nine games without a loss and took head coach Andrew McFadden by surprise.

But McFadden told reporters on Wednesday his side’s destiny remained in their own hands.

A result against the fifth-placed Cowboys on Saturday would prime them for a first finals berth in five years.

“We’re not overreacting,” McFadden said.

“The (Souths) scoreline didn’t look great but they got us with some tactics we need to be better prepared for.”

McFadden has tweaked his line-up for the trip to Townsville, dumping utility Tuimoala Lolohea from the travelling squad.

David Fusitu’a moves to fullback, with Blake Ayshford returning at centre.

Lolohea, 21, was positionally suspect at fullback against the Rabbitohs and will look to rediscover his form at five-eighth in reserve grade.

“Someone had to fill the void when we lost Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck) and he’s done a pretty good job for most of the year,” McFadden said.

“But there’s some things in his game he needs to work on and I’m confident he can sort it out.”

North Queensland have lost four of their past five NRL games and are playing to claw back fourth place and the right to host a home final.

No team has won the title from outside the top four since Canterbury in 1995.

But halfback Shaun Johnson wasn’t underestimating the scale of the challenge his side will face against the Johnathan Thurston-led outfit.

The 25-year-old said his side had “let themselves down” against Souths but had trained well during the week and were ready to make amends.

“They’ve got, in my eyes, the best player in the world, so that’s always an awesome challenge,” Johnson told reporters.

“It’s a tough trip, a long trip for us, but one we’re really excited about.”

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