Quiet rep weekend a positive for Warriors
After a rough fortnight off the field Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman says the club will benefit hugely from a low-key Representative Round last weekend.
Traditionally the Warriors have been among the NRL Telstra Premiership's biggest providers of playing talent to national teams, with a large core of New Zealand and Pacific Islands players in their side.
But this year was a different story, with only three Warriors named for Saturday's clash with the Panthers in Christchurch – Solomone Kata [Tonga], David Fusitu'a [Tonga] and Shaun Johnson [New Zealand] – having taken part in representative fixtures.
"Obviously we usually have a lot on rep duty, so hopefully everyone just kicked back and relaxed and got the body right," Lillyman told NRL.com.
"To be honest I got away from footy altogether for a little bit last week, it's been a heavy few weeks so it was good to just kick back with the family and relax and freshen the mind and body up.
"It was good to have the weekend and a few days off there. Hopefully we can attack this middle part of the season feeling fresh now."
Already facing an absentee list which includes superstar fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and veterans Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei, the week off was timely as the Warriors nurse a number of other knocks sustained through the opening two months of the competition.
Coach Andrew McFadden agreed that it was a positive from a physical point of view, but said an escape from Auckland – and the negative headlines surrounding the club recently – would have been a benefit as well.
"It's probably going to allow some of those other guys to be a little fresher than if they had come off a Test match," McFadden said.
"But they are pretty battle-hardened now that it's 10 weeks into the competition.
"I think for those guys who did play in the rep round it was probably a good feeling for them to get away from here for a little bit."
Meanwhile the Panthers-Warriors clash at AMI Stadium officially sold out on Thursday.
It is the first time the South Island city has hosted an NRL match since the Warriors played the Roosters there back in 2010.