Warriors back Roache to replace Luke
With Issac Luke facing a lengthy stint on the sideline with a suspected dislocated shoulder, the Warriors have endorsed Nathaniel Roache as the man to fill the void at hooker.
Luke was taken from the field in the 32nd minute of Friday night's 21-14 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs in Auckland and didn't return, suffering what the club doctor initially diagnosed as a dislocated shoulder.
In his absence 21-year-old Roache flourished, adding spark with his running game which saw him carry for 101 metres, while also making 27 tackles.
Post-match coach Stephen Kearney all but confirmed Roache would be the man to take over the No.9 jersey if Luke misses time as expected.
"Yeah, let me put it this way, I wouldn't have an issue putting him [Roache] in there," Kearney said.
"My expectation is that is certainly what he is capable of, not only from the attacking side of the game but I thought he defended really strongly and that is what he has got.
"Tonight we just got an opportunity to see it, it has sort of been in short bursts previous to tonight.
"It's been a real tough one for Nate because we are trying to manage him in terms of trying to find a spot to get him on the field."
Prior to Round 16 Roache had averaged under 10 minutes per game in his eight NRL Telstra Premiership appearances in 2017, and on two occasions was unused by Kearney on the interchange.
But veteran lock Simon Mannering said Roache was more than capable of playing the full 80 minutes if required.
"Yeah 100 per cent, he has got a lot of ability and he can definitely punch out 80 minutes through the middle which is a big quality to have," Mannering said.
"You see his presence out on the field, he is a confident kid and when he gets a chance to run he backs himself, so easily he could start a game and definitely finish it.
"We all know how good of a player Nate is and when he came on he did what he does well; runs the footy and a strong defender.
"Disappointed to lose an experienced guy like Issac but when you have got someone like Nate coming on, he really lifts the guys as well."
Other leading contenders for the hooking role include Jazz Tevaga, who was used at dummy-half at NRL level last year but has been unsighted in first grade this season, while mid-season recruit Manaia Cherrington could also feature.