Lisone out to match Cowboys big men
If you're a young prop trying to make your mark in the NRL there's no better time to do it than when you're taking on a side containing three bookends with Test and Origin experience.
And that's exactly what seven-game Warriors rookie Sam Lisone intends to do this Saturday against the Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium.
After a sluggish start to the season Cowboys front-rowers Matt Scott, James Tamou and Ben Hannant have inched closer to top gear over the last three weeks, putting some intimidation back into the North Queensland pack.
But Lisone made it clear mid-week that he won't be taking a backwards step against his esteemed opposite numbers come kick-off.
"I'll meet them halfway if I have to. I'll bring it on the weekend," Lisone boldly declared to NRL.com.
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
"You either have it [natural aggression] or you don't, it's just normal to me.
"I will bully the other front row, that's just how I play to be honest."
Injury to veteran prop Sam Rapira, coupled with the demotion of Kiwi international Suaia Matagi to the NSW Cup, has meant both Lisone and fellow Holden Cup graduate Albert Vete have featured heavily so far this season.
It has been an unexpected bonus for Lisone, who captained the Junior Warriors to Holden Cup glory last year and has averaged 84 running metres and 16 tackles a game to start his first-grade career.
"I am a little bit ahead of where I thought I would be, but just enjoying the ride and trying to put my best foot forward every week," Lisone added.
"I only thought I'd play if Jacob (Lillyman) played Origin."
But the meteoric rise of his young colleagues has come as no surprise to Kiwi international Ben Matulino, who said their pre-season efforts were among the best across the entire squad.
"If you had seen them train in the pre-season they were leading from the front and leaving me and Sammy Raps (Rapira) behind," Matulino said.
"It's good to see that they have come through and brought it onto the field at NRL level.
"They obviously have bright futures and I think Sammy Lisone is going to be the prop to bring the next generation through.
"If we have any chance of winning this game it's probably won in the middle."
Coach Andrew McFadden agreed, stating the performance of his side's forwards would determine not only the impact of Johnathan Thurston, but ultimately the outcome of the match.
"The reason [Thurston] is playing so well at the moment is the quality of their forward pack and what they are doing," McFadden said.
"They are in red-hot form at the moment and probably the form which has made them one of the favourites for the competition.
"It's going to be a big challenge but I know our pack is up to it. We think our forward pack has been the real strength for us all season so far.
"I know our kids as well, they are fearless kids, and they will take them on head-on."
The Warriors' error count has been the other major talking point ahead of this weekend, with the Kiwi side committing 12 or more errors in their last three games.
They now possess the unwanted tag of the NRL's most error-ridden side, with 81 mistakes to date in 2015.
"It's something we have got to address, that's for sure," McFadden said.
"We spend a lot of time putting pressure on the opposition and we sometimes just give it away too easily.
"We gave them [the Tigers] too many easy points on the weekend through simple missed tackles and making errors. If we can just tidy that area of the game up then that will help us."