Issac Luke benched as Ryan Hoffman returns for Warriors

Issac Luke will be on the bench against the  Canberra Raiders.
ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT

Issac Luke will be on the bench against the Canberra Raiders.

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has refrained from making wholesale changes for Sunday's clash against Canberra, despite publicly questioning their effort following last week's dismal defeat in Newcastle.

Issac Luke is the biggest casualty, with the Kiwis hooker dropped to the bench for Nathaniel Roache, while veteran second-rower Ryan Hoffman returns from a foot injury.

But those are the only key changes to the team that lost their fifth game in a row with a 26-10 defeat to the last-placed Knights.

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney accused some of his players of not trying in the loss to the Knights.
ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney accused some of his players of not trying in the loss to the Knights.

Given Kearney accused some of his players of not trying in the post-match press conference, there is bound to be more than a few breathing a sigh of relief. Although, the coach could yet shake things up somewhat when he trims his 22-man squad 24 hours before the game at Mt Smart, and again just before kick-off.

READ MORE:
Kearney: 'Some guys not trying' 
Storm courts Hoffman 
Kearney's on dangerous ground 

A marquee signing at the start of 2016, the Warriors have yet to see the best of Luke on a consistent basis. But he has been particularly poor over the last few weeks as the Warriors fell out of finals contention for a sixth-straight season.

While his running game has been limited by the Warriors' struggles up front, uncharacteristic mistakes have crept into his game and he missed six tackles against the Knights.

Roache, meanwhile, impressed in his first game back from a hamstring injury last week, filling in at both hooker and on the wing when David Fusitu'a went off due to a head knock.

In 40 minutes on the field, the 21-year-old ran for 120 metres from 10 runs, including two line breaks and four tackle breaks as well as his first NRL try, while he made 13 tackles without a miss.

Hoffman last appeared in the 21-14 home win over the Bulldogs in June before a foot injury suffered at training forced him to miss the next five games.

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The 33-year-old gives the side a 301-game injection of experience, teaming up in the back row with Simon Mannering and Bunty Afoa.

Isaiah Papali'i, originally named to start last week, drops back to the extended bench alongside Sam Lisone, rookies James Bell, Chris Satae and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad plus second-year players Jazz Tevaga and Ata Hingano.

The Warriors produced their lowest moment of the season last week but they are unlikely to get any respite from the in-form Raiders.

After a run of four straight losses, the Ricky Stuart-coached side has won three of their last four matches to sit on 22 points, four outside the top eight.

They have a 20-17 winning edge in 37 matches between the two clubs but the Warriors are 12-7 ahead in home contests.

Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), David Fusitu'a, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Kieran Foran, Mason Lino, Jacob Lillyman, Nathaniel RoAche, Ben Matulino, Bunty Afoa, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering. Interchange: Issac Luke, Sam Lisone, Isaiah Papali'i, James Bell, Jazz Tevaga, Chris Satae, Mafoa'aeata Hingano, Charnze Nicoll-klokstad

 

 - Stuff

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