Warriors should raid Super Rugby

JUSTIN LATIF
Last updated 05:00 02/11/2012

It seems the fallout is continuing at the Warriors. Following head trainer Craig Walker moving on, Tony Iro looks like he may well join him at the Roosters. This will give the Sydney side a fairly sizeable contingent of ex-Warriors in their coaching staff and a playing roster which should make for an interesting match-up next year.

But that is the least of Matthew Elliot's worries. He's obviously got to find better centre options than Bluey did and work out what to do with his surplus of back-rowers, while facing a dearth of quality wingers.

It seems the gaps are going to being plugged with a few journey men, and he'll be sweating on Jerome Ropati and Dane Neilsen to stay fit for most of the season.

And it seems, from my distant vantage point, that there's not much talent left to grab in the NRL so perhaps Elliot should consider perusing the healthy rugby stocks of this country.

To help him I've compiled the top seven rugby buys from this season's Super 15 New Zealand conference:

Rene Ranger - Centre/ Wing: The guy has got destructive NRL superstar etched all over him. He's fast, powerful and has Sonny Bill Williams' freakish off-load abilities. He's also played so many positions in rugby that he could probably pick up the nuances of league faster than most.

Piri Weepu - Hooker: While his passing is a bit off compared to Aaron Smith, he'd be streets ahead of most rakes in the NRL right now. Also his sniping abilities and background in touch rugby would help him make the transition to league. His extra bulk would be useful on defence, but he might struggle with the pace, so hooker is also a good option for him as most teams carry two nines.

Robbie Fruen - centre/ backrower: Like Ranger, he's another powerful runner who seems to be unable to break into the All Blacks. His extra bulk could also seem him used as a ball-playing backrower. The fitness demands could be the only factor against him, but the interchange would help him there.

Sona Taumalolo - prop (unfortunately he's already signed to play in France): Obviously one of his strengths as a ferocious scrummager would not be needed in league. But his ability to smash his way to the try line from five metres out would be incredibly valuable. And his general go-forward abilities and low centre of gravity would make him a useful metre-eater in the same way Russell Packer is for the Warriors.

Israel Dagg - Fullback: He's almost as big as NRL legend Greg Inglis and has the potential to be just as hard to stop. He's brilliant in the air so all bombs would be diffused with aplomb. And with his speed, step and fend, he would be unstoppable on sweeping second man plays in the same way Dally M winner Ben Barba has been this year.

Lelia Masaga - centre/wing: Masaga strikes me as someone who needs to be one-on-one to be truly effective. And in the 15 man game there just isn't enough space on the field for him to really showcase his skills. However, imagine the havoc he'd create with only one or two guys to beat as he'd face in league.

Bowden Barrett - stand-off: This guy has so much talent and it seems a shame he's got to wait for Carter and Cruden to keel over before we can see his potential realised at the top level. So maybe he should consider a season at the Warriors. He has the physical presence to take the ball to the line, or hit runners on the edge of the defensive line. And he'd also fix the goal kicking issues for the Warriors with Jimmy Maloney gone.

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- Auckland Now

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