Ayshford takes lucky break
Sometimes in rugby league all you need is a little bit of good fortune, and for Warriors outside back Blake Ayshford that came last week in the shape of Kieran Foran's dodgy hamstring.
Out of the NRL Telstra Premiership picture for the first three weeks of the season, with coach Stephen Kearney preferring David Fusitu'a and Solomone Kata in the centres, Ayshford was a late call-up to face the St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 4 after Foran was injured during the warm-up.
Despite Ayshford having already played 80 minutes for the club's reserve-grade side a day earlier, his performance in the 26-12 loss to the Dragons was enough to see him earn a start for this Sunday's clash against the Gold Coast Titans at Mount Smart Stadium.
"It was always going to be hard [to get a spot in the centres], but a couple of things went my way, big Manu [Vatuvei] got injured and Foran got injured," Ayshford said.
"I sort of take my chance and hopefully I get to stay there and play some good footy.
"I suppose [it's reward for last week]."
Like several of his teammates in a game where the Warriors fumbled their way to 19 errors, Ayshford struggled with ball control against the Dragons, but held his own in defence and ran for over 70 metres.
The former Wests Tigers and Cronulla Sharks centre admitted his mind wasn't on the job prior to kick-off, given there was no suggestion he may be called upon to play, and revealed an unorthodox preparation.
"The night before we came back from the [NSW] Cup game, we had just had a tough win (21-14 over Illawarra) and had some pizza on the bus and pudding at dinner, it was pretty relaxed," Ayshford said.
"[During warm-up with the NRL side] I was sort of passing the ball to 'Foz' and I just heard him say he wasn't too happy with his hammy… I sort of got an inkling [that I might play].
"I think the best thing about it was there was no nervous energy. Normally before a game you would be thinking about it and thinking about everything you had to do, whereas when I went out for warm-up I was just relaxed and there wasn’t too much on my mind because I knew I wasn't playing
"The worst thing that happened to me was half-time. I sat down and then after that it was a bit hard, but certainly the food that I ate the day before, thinking I wasn't going to play, wasn't the best."
Meanwhile the 28-year-old said he expected to play a shared role with David Fusitu'a on the Warriors' right edge against the Titans this weekend, with the two players switching between wing and centre at different times throughout the match.
"We were doing the same as we did on the weekend [at training], just swapping, he does things I can't do 'Fus', he is a lot better under the high ball and is a big boy with a strong carry, so we will sort of work to our strengths."