Warriors brace for 'bully' Roosters
If recent history is anything to go by then the Warriors' forward pack is in for a torrid day at the office when they host the Sydney Roosters in Auckland on Sunday.
That was the message from veteran prop Ben Matulino this week, as his side prepares to take on a Tricolours outfit that boasts seven current or former representative players in the pack alone.
The Roosters will take the field at Mount Smart Stadium having won back-to-back matches, including a 13-12 golden point victory over the Dragons on Anzac Day which saw them overcome one of the NRL Telstra Premiership's best forward units.
"Nearly everyone in that [Roosters] forward pack are internationals or rep players and they are traditionally a team who like to bully players," said Matulino, who this week announced he will leave the Warriors at the end of 2017 to link up with the Wests Tigers on a three-year deal.
"[They are] big and tough in the middle. They are definitely up there [with the best], they are always going to be up there whether they have a good season or a bad season, just the amount of quality players in that team."
In addition to coming up against them on the park, Matulino has a closer knowledge of Roosters big men Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Isaac Liu and Sio Siua Taukeiaho after spending time with them in Kiwis camp in previous years.
Matulino nominated the latter, who played a first-grade match alongside Matulino for the Warriors back in 2013, to be a game-changer off the bench in Round 9.
"[Siua] is pretty handy to have around the ruck with his footwork, he is like a little [Jason] Taumalolo type of player," Matulino said.
"I think with his game last week he was massive for them and he can add to their team.
"He played against us here last year and destroyed it through the middle and we will be expecting the same."
Meanwhile coach Stephen Kearney said he was keeping an open mind in regards to how he will use Matulino against the Roosters after the 28-year-old played his first match of the year in the 20-14 loss to the Melbourne Storm on Anzac Day.
An injury to centre Solomone Kata caused a reshuffle which resulted in Matulino playing 46 minutes off the bench, more than double what he and Kearney had planned for prior to the match.
Matulino is working his way back to full fitness after a lay-off following knee surgery.
"He was on [restricted minutes] last week but it didn't work out that way, so I have given up on plans for interchange," Kearney said.
"[But] I thought he handled the time really well."