Roache not eyeing No.9 coup

Roache not eyeing No.9 coup

Despite unseating the Kiwi international hooker for Sunday's clash against the Canberra Raiders, Nathaniel Roache said he expects his starting role with the Warriors to be short-lived.

‌Following last week's 26-10 defeat to the Newcastle Knights – which stretched the Warriors' winless streak to five consecutive games – Issac Luke wore the brunt of coach Stephen Kearney's displeasure, being dropped to the interchange for failing to meet expectations on the field.

It opens the door for Roache to make just his third NRL Telstra Premiership start, after impressing against the Knights with 120 run metres and a pair of line breaks in a 40-minute stint.

But the 21-year-old was quick to downplay the change ahead of Sunday's meeting with the 10th-placed Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.

"I was definitely shocked to hear I was starting, I wasn't expecting it at all… but it doesn't really mean anything for 'Bully' (Luke), he's still the No.1 hooker at this club," Roache said.

"As we get to the end of the season, we are just trying to get some new combos, but it's a good opportunity for me. 

"Last week I was just happy to be back from the hamstring injury, so to get a few minutes in me in the first part of the second half at hooker was good."

After questioning the commitment of some of his squad following the limp effort against Newcastle, which saw the Warriors fall to their 13th loss in 20 games, Kearney sounded a clear warning by relegating Luke to the bench.

The veteran dummy-half missed six tackles in 66 minutes against Newcastle, and Kearney didn't hold back in his appraisal. 

"We have an expectation as a group and I feel that he didn't reach that level," Kearney said of Luke.

"He understands the nature of the business, it's about performance and getting your job done. Unfortunately on Saturday he failed to do that.

"He knows the detail and it's just about making sure that he gets it done.

"Obviously for a guy of his experience, he's disappointed, and I would be disappointed if he wasn't disappointed.

"I am sure he will be back bigger and stronger.

"Nathaniel played really well before he got injured and I thought came on and provided the group with some spark [last week], so he gets an opportunity this week."

It will be hoped Roache's inclusion will breathe some life into the spluttering Warriors attack, which has now gone three games without registering more than two tries in a match.