Warriors rookie pair to the fore
At the start of 2016 few would have picked them to be playing a key role in the Warriors' run home, but between them Jazz Tevaga and Nathaniel Roache are forming a solid double act out of dummy-half.
Two players of contrasting styles – Tevaga a courageous defender and strong ball carrier, and Roache a skilful rake with speed and vision – have been tasked with filling the void created by Issac Luke's knee injury.
With Luke not expected back until Round 26 at the earliest, responsibility for helping the Warriors through to the NRL Telstra Premiership finals for the first time since 2011 will fall on the shoulders of the two 20-year-old rookies.
"We have talked a bit together and pretty much have just kept it simple and said we just need to do the best we can for the team, and make sure we do our job while 'Bully' (Luke) is out," Roache said.
"It was a bit unexpected with poor Bully going down, but I guess it opens up a bit of an opportunity.
"I am just happy to be back in the environment and I just have to do my job until Bully has recovered."
After making his first-grade debut in Round 1 Roache has managed eight NRL games to date, while Tevaga will play his 11th when the Warriors host the Rabbitohs at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
Last week against the Titans the pair played 40 minutes each on the park, with Tevaga aiming to improve his work on the ball against a bulky South Sydney pack.
"I was a bit gassed [last week] to be honest, just because I haven't played many minutes over the past month, but I thought my defence was pretty solid, but I still need to improve in attack," Tevaga said.
"More running, taking those running opportunities. I think Nate came on and provided us with some good runs out of dummy-half, you saw him break the line just after half-time, and that's an aspect of my game I need to work on.
"They (South Sydney) have got a big forward pack and when they get tired I will be looking to run out of dummy-half a bit more."
Luke had arthroscopic surgery to repair a minor meniscus tear in his right knee on Monday and is expected to be back running as early as next week.
McFadden said he was hopeful Luke's recovery would be straightforward, but was confident Tevaga and Roache would get the job done in the meantime.
"He (Luke) is pretty good... as long as there are no complications with infection in the next couple of days then he should have a pretty quick recovery," McFadden said.
"We are hopeful for the last round, it's still a pretty significant operation so there is going to be some time on the sideline, but if we can get him back for the last round that will be a pretty good recovery period.
"[Roache and Tevaga] were really good, initially Nate Roache was going to be just backing up for Issac and just giving him a short spell, but he had a lot more to contribute in the game and so did Jazz.
"They did a pretty good job tag teaming with each other."