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20 Mar 2018 16:37
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  •   Home > News > Sports

    Swinging Warriors axe may have pitfalls

    Veteran Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman says demoting the side's underperforming first-graders could come with unforeseen consequences.

    Stephen Kearney
    Stephen Kearney

    The Warriors' established stars may have floundered in 2017 but prop Jacob Lillyman says wholesale squad changes aren't the answer.

    Head coach Stephen Kearney has made just one form-related change for Sunday's NRL match with Canberra, with Issac Luke dropped for Nathaniel Roache at hooker.

    First-grade regulars Shaun Johnson, Kieran Foran, Bodene Thompson and James Gavet will also miss the match through injury.

    Elsewhere, Kearney admitted he didn't have the depth to make further changes, as the Warriors face a sixth straight season without finals football.

    Lillyman, a nine-year veteran in Auckland, said calls to demote the Warriors' underperforming first-graders - particularly following last weekend's limp 26-10 loss to Newcastle - were wide of the mark.

    A young player's development could be severely hampered if thrown into the NRL first-grade arena too soon, or in the wrong circumstances.

    In any case, the Warriors have already used 30 players in first grade this year.

    "There's a lot more that goes into it than putting the broom through and making mass changes, you know - especially bringing young guys in that aren't ready," the 33-year-old Lillyman told reporters this week.

    "There's no denying that was a tough one to go through on the weekend, the boys are certainly hurting. This weekend can't come quickly enough."

    Sunday's clash with Canberra could mark the beginning of the end of Lillyman's Warriors tenure, with the prop off-contract at the end of 2017.

    He wasn't sure where he'd play next season, but felt settled in Auckland.

    "I'm still not too sure yet, just working through some things with my manager. Obviously I've been here for a while so it'd be nice to stay, but certainly we'll look at all the options," Lillyman said.


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