Elliott ponders Shaun Johnson's replacement

DAVID LONG
Last updated 12:49 03/03/2013
Pita Godinet
Photosport
PITA GODINET: Could replace an injured Shaun Johnson.

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Warriors coach Matt Elliott faces a selection headache for the season opener in deciding who to pick at halfback as a replacement for the injured Shaun Johnson.

Johnson is out for at least Saturday's season-opener against Parramatta Eels but could be sidelined for up to a month after hyper-extending his right elbow in the 16-10 trial win over Brisbane Broncos last weekend.

Pita Godinet excelled when he filled in.

But he has only eight games' worth of experience in the NRL and suffered a concussion last weekend.

Elliott confirmed Godinet was an option, but said he was prepared to look outside the square when deciding who would wear the No 7 jersey.

"We've got a few [options]," Elliott told Sunday News.

"Pita's performance on the weekend was outstanding but Feleti [Mateo] has got some experience in the halves and I even wouldn't hesitate at using Ben Henry there as well.

"Ben came through as a No 6 and I've got a high degree of faith in him and of his understanding of what we're trying to achieve collectively. His individual capabilities are right up there as well."

As exclusively reported in Sunday News last week, Elliott confirmed that the Warriors have shown an interest in former Canberra Raiders hooker Travis Waddell, who started for the Indigenous All Stars last month.

"That's something that's been raised.

"People are saying deals have been done, which is slightly premature," he said.

The reason the Warriors are looking at bringing in a hooker on the eve of the season opening is because of the uncertainty over when Nathan Friend will be available again.

Friend, who turned 32 on Thursday, had an operation last month to repair nerve damage on his shoulder and Elliott doesn't know when it's likely he'll be back playing again.

"The issue with hooker is that, with Nathan out for a question mark period, it's having a bit of depth there," he said.

"The young Siliva [Havili] has got a development process to get through, and if we started using him as our hooker we'd put him under undue pressure."

One piece of positive news on the injury front is that Sione Lousi may not be out for as long as was first feared.

It was believed Lousi ruptured one of his anterior cruciate ligaments in the trial against Gold Coast Titans, and would be out for six months, but that may not be the case now.

"Sione has been reassessed now and, fingers crossed, the likelihood that it is not as bad as first thought, but we're hoping that it hasn't clinically reproduced itself as it did initially.

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"The prognosis on this is that it might end up being a lot better.

"But this is a part of reality and you tend to get your injuries when players first go into full combat, so let's hope that we've got our quota up now."

Meanwhile, having observed from the outside the axing of Benji Marshall as Kiwis captain this week, he is unsure how this will affect his playing ability at the World Cup.

"I have seen examples of that going both ways, where some people thrive with the responsibility," he said.

"If I look at the Australian cricket team, when they took the captaincy away from Ricky Ponting I felt his performances went backwards, because he's someone who wants that responsibility.

"But I have also seen the opposite with people, where the captaincy has moved from something that was an honour to being a burden.

"Once they've had it removed they start to play well again, so it will be down to Benji, I'd say."

- Sunday News

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