Roache wings it again for Warriors
Versatility is always a valuable commodity in the NRL Telstra Premiership, and on Sunday night the Warriors needed plenty of it to sneak home against the Roosters in a tough 12-10 victory.
Just eight minutes into the match at Mt Smart Stadium the Warriors lost veteran half Thomas Leuluai to a head knock and a bad cut, forcing coach Andrew McFadden to make a number of changes to a backline which had impressed in the previous two weeks, scoring a combined 86 points.
Fullback Tuimoala Lolohea shifted into standoff, with last week's four-try hero, David Fusitu'a, filling the void at the back. That left rookie bench hooker Nathaniel Roache to play the remaining 72 minutes on the right wing, a position he had played only once before in his entire life.
"I had my first ever taste [on the wing] against the Broncos in Round 3, I was put out wide and kind of got found out that night," Roache said.
"I had some experience playing in the centres, but never really the wing, so it was a bit of a shock.
"I have been doing a bit of work on it and I guess it helped today in not doing too badly out there.
"Through training 'Cappy' [McFadden] and all the staff chuck me in those positions just incase, so I can at least have a bit of experience and so it's not so much of a shock.
"But when it actually happens out on the field it's a bit different.
"The Roosters chucked a few [high balls] up and I pretty much just told 'Fus' [David Fusitu'a] to catch them all, the poor guy!"
The makeshift combinations came together well to help the Warriors overcome a stubborn Roosters outfit, who repelled the New Zealand side for 63 minutes before eventually conceding a try to Shaun Johnson.
From fullback Fusitu'a ran for 159 metres, while Roache stood up to some intense pressure out wide, making 10 tackles without a miss.
Speaking post-match, Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman praised the way his side adjusted to the early loss of Leuluai.
"I suppose there was that immediate shock with guys changing positions, but you have got to remember Tui was going to be playing five-eighth for us there before Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck] went down, so it wasn't too foreign for us," Hoffman said.
"I thought [Lolohea] did the job quite well, and that is I suppose the benefit of a lot of our outside backs, they are quite versatile and can fill positions quite well.
"Even though it was a bit of a big change for us I don't think it affected us too much."
Meanwhile it remains unclear how long Leuluai will be out for, with McFadden not confident he will be fit and available for selection ahead of the Round 16 trip to face the second-placed Sharks.
"It was a head knock so he obviously wasn't fit to go back onto the field, he got a bit of laceration [as well]," McFadden said.
"He has got a short turnaround so I'm not sure if he will be available."