Konrad Hurrell’s up-and-down NRL season continues with him being dropped from the Warriors’ side to play St George Illawarra on Saturday in Wellington.
His replacement in the centres by Jonathan Wright is the only change Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has made to the team beaten 18-14 by Cronulla last weekend, when Hurrell was one of the Warriors’ two tryscorers.
Injury, suspension and erratic form have limited Hurrell to just nine of the Warriors’ 21 games this season.
Seasoned back-rowers Ryan Hoffman (calf) and Bodene Thompson (ankle) are still sidelined with injuries, as the Warriors look to regain their mojo without star playmaker Shaun Johnson who broke his ankle last month against Manly.
After their third loss on the trot, the Warriors have slipped to ninth on the ladder on for-and-against but are on 22 points with the seventh-placed Dragons.
“The energy was there against Cronulla but we need to be better defensively, in our execution and our effort,” McFadden said in a statement.
“With the changes we had, we were disjointed last week, which wasn’t unexpected, but we’re going to need big improvements in what is a huge game for us.”
The Warriors have notched only four wins in 23 clashes against the Dragons, the last being eight years ago in Auckland.
The only Warriors survivors from that 44-16 victory are Simon Mannering who scored two tries in the centres and winger Manu Vatuvei.
Vatuvei went tryless last weekend but made a game-high 195 metres from 14 runs in his first match in more than a month. He remains four short of 150 career tries.
Charlie Gubb will play his first NRL game in his Wellington hometown on Saturday, alongside fellow local rugby league products Mannering and Ben Matulino.
Energetic front-rower Gubb will make just his sixth appearance of the season, again as an interchange player.
Warriors: Sam Tomkins, Ken Maumalo, Jonathan Wright, Solomone Kata, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Tuimoala Lolohea, Jacob Lillyman, Nathan Friend, Albert Vete, Ben Matulino, Simon Mannering (capt), Sebastine Ikahihifo. Res: Siliva Havili, Sam Lisone, Charlie Gubb, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Dominique Peyroux.