The NZ Warriors’ big men top the list of concerns Toyota Cowboys coach Paul Green has about his opponents in the round three NRL clash at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday night.
There’s definitely no shortage of size in the Warriors’ pack with Ben Matulino (193cm/ 107kg) and Sam Rapira (184cm/ 105kg) starting in the front-row with support off the bench from Suaia Matagi (183cm/ 105kg), Sioni Lausi (191cm/ 106kg) and ex-Cowboy Jacob Lillyman (182cm/ 104kg).
Although he’s a winger, Manu Vatuvei is as big as most forwards while ball-playing lock Feleti Mateo, at 194cm and 108kg, is not lacking in bulk either.
The scene was set for a big forward battle when Lillyman told the media in Auckland on Wednesday that the Warriors planned to “fight fire with fire”.
“They roll down the field really well and have some good big ball carriers,” Lillyman said of the Cowboys.
“You have to take them on as well through the middle and try and take a bit of steam out of them. It’s a pretty simple recipe but pretty hard to execute.”
Green said he was sure the Warriors would try to “get some second phase play happening” with offloads from their pack.
“Johnson and Tomkins are very dangerous in broken field play – plenty of speed and footwork,” Green said.
“It’s important we’re doing a good job through the middle there.
“If you let them play the ball too quickly or get some second phase ball happening those guys are very hard to handle.
“We just have to trust our defensive system, we’ll handle what they throw at us, be smart and keep working for each other.”
Hooker Anthony Mitchell has been added to the Cowboys squad as 18th man and will not line up for the Mackay Cutters in the Intrust Super Cup tomorrow night.