Warriors coach Andrew McFadden says winger David Fusitu'a paid the price for the Warriors' disappointing loss to the Broncos on Saturday night.
Fusitu'a is one of two players dropped for Sunday's huge game against the Sea Eagles at Mt Smart Stadium, with the other being rookie Agnatius Paasi, who makes way for Sam Rapira.
Replacing Fusitu'a is Ngani Laumape, who shifts to the wing from centre and he comes back in the side after serving a three-match ban for a dangerous tackle.
Fusitu'a, who has been playing consistently well this season since replacing the injured Glen Fisiiahi, didn't have the best of nights in Brisbane and McFadden said he needed to give him a game off.
"David would admit that it wasn't one of his best games, but he's a young kid, he's been going great for us and I know he'll be back," McFadden said.
But Fusitu'a demotion could be shortlived, depending on a medical examination Konrad Hurrell is to have.
Hurrell failed a medical test against the Broncos and didn't train yesterday. While the blockbusting centre has been named to start on Sunday, if he's ruled out it's likely Laumape will move back to centre and Fusitu'a gets a reprieve.
"He [Hurrell] is going to get tested and we'll see how he goes," McFadden said.
"Obviously we kept him out of training today, based on the recommendation of our doctor, so we'll have to see, but he's going OK at the moment.
"We're optimistic he'll be fine because he's not showing any symptoms at the moment."
On the other side of the Tasman, the Warriors were being talked up as one of the hottest teams in NRL ahead of that loss to the Broncos and while it wasn't a defeat where they capitulated, like they did against the Rabbitohs in Perth last month, McFadden said he was disappointed with the players' mentality in the game.
"We conceded 28 points and we hadn't done that for a while," he said. "That was based down to effort, which is what we want a foundation of. So I'm disappointed with that, but the players have been brutally honest with each other and I know that we can improve and it's a quick fix for us."
It needs to be, because the Sea Eagles have been the best team this year, with 12 wins and five losses.
That makes this weekend's game a huge test for the Warriors. If they beat the Sea Eagles, they should be regarded a team that can win the Premiership. If they lose, then all the signs point to them being a fringe top-eight team that probably won't last long in the finals.
"It starts with the attitude and mindset going into the game and then it's going to be a real challenge with our decision making," McFadden said of the game ahead.
"They are one of the best attacking teams in the competition and they'll definitely test us.
"It's certainly a great test to see where we are, they're on top of the table at the moment and it's going to be a big challenge.
"They can obviously strike right across the park. They're an aggressive type of team, so this is the team we want to beat if we want to compete with the big guys at the end of the season."
AT A GLANCE
Warriors: Sam Tomkins, Ngani Laumape, Konrad Hurrell, Dane Nielsen, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Nathan Friend, Suaia Matagi, Ben Henry, Simon Mannering, Sebastine Ikahihifo. Interchange (from): Feleti Mateo, Ben Matulino, Thomaa Leuluai, Jayson Bukuya, Sam Rapira
Who is your pick for international league player of the year?Related story: (See story)