Jazz Tevaga and Nathaniel Roache have much in common.
Both are softly spoken 20-year-olds learning the ropes as a first-grade Warriors hooker.
Both are recent NYC graduates striving to cement themselves as the incumbent Issac Luke’s understudy.
And both, if last week’s game is anything to go by, have defensive steel in spades.
The Kiwi rookies made a combined 59 tackles and missed none in their eighth-placed side’s 24-14 win over the Titans, filling in for the injured Luke with aplomb.
They’ll share the No.9 role again in Saturday’s clash against the Rabbitohs in Auckland, with Tevaga in the run-on side and Roache to inject energy from the bench.
Roache said the pair, who played a half each on the Gold Coast, have different on-field characteristics but are working together to push the Warriors towards a finals berth.
“Jazz is prized in his defence and I just try to give that spark in attack,” Roache told AAP.
Luke, 29, overcame a sluggish start to life in Auckland to produce several excellent displays before injury struck a fortnight ago.
He was operated on this week and should be ready for action by early September.
The Kiwi international has become a mentor for Tevaga and Roache over the course of 2016.
“From pre-season, I’ve already developed my game so much learning through him – moreso in reading the game,” Tevaga said.
Head coach Andrew McFadden was impressed by the performance of both young rakes in the side’s win over the Jarryd Hayne-inspired Gold Coast, and expected a similar performance against the Rabbitohs.
South Sydney have endured a miserable season, sitting in 14th place and suffering nine losses on the bounce despite a star-studded line-up including Greg Inglis.
However, they showed signs of life last week in taking the Storm to golden point before losing 15-14.
A battle around the ruck was on the cards, according to Roache.
“It’s going to be a tough day for the likes of me and Jazz in the middle,” Roache said.
STATS THAT MATTER:
* The Warriors have won three of their last four home matches against the Rabbitohs but lost their most recent home encounter 22-24 in 2013.
* However the Auckland-based side has a terrible recent record against South Sydney overall, winning just four of 12 matches since 2008.
* The Warriors have lost three of their past six matches in extra time but have not been defeated in 80 minutes since May 21.
* The Rabbitohs have not lost 10 straight games since 2006.
(SOURCE: FOX SPORTS LAB)