Do or die – that’s the message for both the Warriors and the Wests Tigers as the two sides head into Sunday’s penultimate 2016 fixture in Auckland.
Both teams sit on 24 points and need to win both of their final two games, and hope the Gold Coast slip up against North Queensland and Penrith to secure finals football.
Warriors hotshot David Fusitu’a knows his side no longer controls its own fate but endeavoured to fight to the last following consecutive losses to South Sydney and the Cowboys.
“It is what it is, we can’t sulk about it,” Fusitu’a said.
“There’s still a chance and we’re definitely going to put our best foot forward this week and in the week to come.
“Whatever happens, happens.”
The Warriors were repeatedly put under the cosh by a rampaging Cowboys outfit in Townsville last week, defending their tryline for large stretches of the 34-6 loss.
Fusitu’a, 21, was looking forward to seeing his side use its game-breakers to better use against the Tigers.
He said the Warriors would be going back to basics by focusing on their running and passing game, and hoped it’d pay dividends.
“We do our best work on attack and have so many damaging ball-runners,” he said.
“It’ll be good to get better field position and put more points on the board.”
For the Warriors, prodigious utility Tuimoala Lolohea has been drafted back into the side in the place of crocked winger Ken Maumolo and will look to impress.
Ata Hingano, 19, will also play a role in the match after making a promising debut off the bench in North Queensland.
Hooker Issac Luke may also make a surprise early return from knee surgery, according to Kiwi media reports on Friday.
For their opponents, winger David Nofoaluma will move to fullback in the absence of star No.1 James Tedesco and will directly face off with Fusitu’a.
STATS THAT MATTER:
* The Warriors have won six of their eight matches against the Tigers in New Zealand since mid-2005.
* The Tigers have won just six of their last 23 NRL matches outside of Sydney.
* The Warriors and Tigers tend to produce high-scoring affairs when they face each other, with their past four encounters producing at least 50 points.
* Warriors star Shaun Johnson requires just seven more points to become the club’s all-time leading point scorer, leapfrogging Stacey Jones’ 674 points.