Warriors want big defence on home front

The Warriors haven’t played at home for more than a month, but their “unacceptable” defensive effort there the last time around remains fresh in coach Andrew McFadden’s memory.

The Gold Coast won the Anzac Day encounter in Auckland 32-28, busting the contest open in the second half with four tries in a row.

Since then, the Warriors have got their NRL campaign back on track by pulling off dramatic late wins at Cronulla and Parramatta before their bye last week, and they went into the current round seventh on the ladder.

“The reason we won those last two games is that we were really gritty and tough in defence,” McFadden said.

“We leaked 32 points against the Titans last time we were at Mt Smart and that is really unacceptable, so there’s a big focus around that.”

The Warriors’ line-up features the return of fullback Sam Tomkins, who has been out for two months with a knee injury.

The England international takes over the No.1 jersey from Tuimoala Lolohea, who moves to centre with Konrad Hurrell sitting out the second match of a three-match ban.

McFadden admits Tomkins won’t be at 100 per cent, but was close enough and his class demanded his selection.

“He’s really sparked everyone up this week,” McFadden said.

“Tui has done a terrific job, but Sam has just got a different level in him and his talk both in attack and defence is critical for us.”

The Warriors have NSW second rower Ryan Hoffman and Queensland prop Jacob Lillyman backing up from State of Origin, with Hoffman’s opposite number being Blues teammate Beau Scott.

Against a Knights pack that also contains the likes of ex-Kiwis enforcer Jeremy Smith, back at lock after a sternum complaint, and prop Kade Snowden, McFadden said the Warriors would have to do the business up front.

“You have to take them on head-on,” he said.

“We’ve obviously got Ryan against Beau Scott – that will be a great match-up – and Ben Matulino against Snowden. Our forwards definitely are going to have to lay a platform for us in the middle.”

The Knights beat the Warriors 24-14 in the first round as part of a four-win streak to start the season, but have since lost six of their past seven matches.

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