McFadden praises wounded Warriors
They may have only just avoided becoming the victim of one of the season's biggest upsets, but Warriors coach Andrew McFadden was full of praise for the resilience shown by his wounded mob in their 16-12 win over Cronulla.
While many expected the New Zealanders to cruise to victory against the cellar-dwelling Sharks, injuries to two outside backs, coupled with 11 errors and 39 missed tackles, meant they were pushed to the very last minute at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
"It was pretty scrappy win, but two points is two points at this time of the year," McFadden said.
"We haven't backed up after a big last week, so although it was a scrappy win we will take it.
"We certainly were challenged today. We need to give a huge lot of credit to the opposition and the way they fought."
The Warriors were made to scramble from early in their contest against Cronulla. Losing rookie winger Tuimoala Lolohea in the opening five minutes forced Ben Henry, who was originally slated to come off the bench into the back-row, to play right centre with Ngani Laumape shifting on to the wing.
The team was further tested when left centre Dane Nielsen left the field 12 minutes into the second half, after being tipped into a dangerous position by Sharks forward Sam Tagataese.
"When you take two outside backs out of your team… they are 80-minute players so you have got to make that up somewhere and that usually goes to your back-rowers," McFadden said.
"We lost Tui in about the second minute of the game and lost Dane Nielsen which really tests your combinations out on the edge.
"We had our big back-rowers having to play lots of minutes.
"I thought Sione Lousi did a terrific job and Simon [Mannering] as well filling in in the centres.
"It does challenge you because those guys usually get rotated. But that's probably the big positive out of the game that under all that pressure we still managed to hold them out.
"I think those changes obviously tested our conditioning with our big men, and then the fact that we dropped so much pill in the second half – I think we only completed at 60 per cent – it just put us under more pressure."
Both Nielsen and Lolohea now look set to spend some time on the sidelines, as the Warriors' causality ward continues to grow at an alarming pace.
"Tui doesn't look great, it's a hamstring strain of some degree," McFadden confirmed.
"Dane is pretty unwell at the moment, so not sure if he will be available next week.
"It [the tackle on Nielsen] was obviously dangerous, I think the initial part of the tackle warranted report.
"But I think the real damage was done when he came down."
The Warriors now head across to Hunter Stadium to face a Knights side undoubtedly buoyed by Saturday night's last-minute victory over the Storm.
McFadden was confident of regaining the services of at least a few of his injured stars, and views Shaun Johnson as a likely starter.
"Fortunately we think we will get a few back this week which is going to be really handy," he said.
"We are really confident Shaun should be back next week. Not sure about Konrad [Hurrell], he may be the week after."