‘Brave’ Warriors suffer shocking injury toll

The New Zealand Warriors were beaten in more ways than one in their “brave” 30-16 defeat to the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

A nightmare first half saw four key Warriors players – skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tohu Harris, Wayde Egan and Rocco Berry – all go off injured, leaving their interchange bench empty with more than a half of the game to go.

Egan was seen on the bench in the second half however coach Nathan Brown said he could barely pass a ball and was never going to go back out.

“To be able to play with no subs for the last 50-55 minutes we lost three in the first 15 minutes, it was a big effort,” Brown said in his post-match press conference.

“Playing with grit and commitment is more beneficial than being technically sound and everything. For us hopefully we can learn from it and build our club off the back of that.”

Tuivasa-Sheck playing in the halves was a massive early loss, but Brown said the Warriors captain’s head knock after attempting a tackle on Matt Burton was not a major concern considering the other injuries.

“Roger is probably the least of our concern. He’s had a concussion. He’s quite good now. We’ll have to see how he goes next week, he’ll have to go through the protocols, but Roger’s the one that’s in the best shape,” Brown said.

Kikau scores after charge down

It was a different story for the rest of the Warriors casualty ward.

“I think Tohu Harris has done his ACL which is a terrible injury and Wayde Egan’s shoulder is looking like he won’t be likely [to play] this year and Rocco unfortunately has done a hamstring,” Brown said.

Despite the win Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was not pleased with his side’s “rusty” effort, but was impressed by New Zealand’s toughness after the early injury setbacks.

“I thought they were very brave,” the coach said in his post-match press conference.

“They came up with some big stops on their goal line.”

NRL Highlights: The Panthers defeat the depleted Warriors – Round 18

The Panthers took a while to get into gear, and were helped by the knocked about Warriors squad, but when they did, especially in the second half, Penrith proved too slick for New Zealand.

Standouts for the Panthers were Viliame Kikau and Charlie Staines who both scored doubles, with Kikau’s charge-down and score in the opening two minutes easily the highlight.

The Panthers had an injury blow of their own too with James Fisher-Harris.

“He had about three injuries in one instance,” Cleary said.

“I don’t think its too bad but I’m actually not too sure. I think he got neck, knee and the ribs. Hopefully he’s not too bad.”

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