Remember the Titans

No matter what happens during the match, Saturday will be a special day — you can at least count on that. The Warriors get their first chance to host an Anzac Day fixture, on the most momentous occasion to date, and in what will be the opening match of a five-game marathon of rugby league. There’ll be an official Anzac Day ceremony, including The Last Post and a moment of silence — Lest We Forget — in recognition of the 100-year anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign.


At points throughout the day we will need to put aside our general dislike of Australia and everything Australian, and come together to stand alongside our brothers, in respect of those who came before us.

We must forget all the sheep jokes and digs at our accent.

We must forgive the crudeness of their cultural icons (Parental Guidance Recommended!)

Lest we forget that we fought together and died together in service of our two great countries.

But, for the greater part of Saturday, we will battle against our counterparts from the Gold Coast. For 80 minutes, they will be our enemies and we will engage in combat with them on the sacred ground of Mt Smart Stadium. All for the honour and privilege of two competition points.

While last week’s formline may suggest otherwise — the Titans fresh from a big win against the Panthers and the Warriors heartbroken after a last-minute loss to the Cowboys — the result of this match lies purely in the Warriors’ hands. On paper, the men from Mt Smart can beat anyone in the competition, and, in fits and starts, they’ve shown they’ve got that ability on the field, too. But, as we’ve discussed before, the problem is putting it together for 80 minutes.

The Titans will come to Our Rightful Home full of confidence, and, despite all their off-field dramas this year, they’re starting to put it together on the pitch, with three wins from their last four, including big wins against both Penrith and Parramatta.

In James Roberts, the Titans boast one of the best attacking weapons in the NRL right now. The guy has a strong fend, an eye for a gap and absolutely blistering speed — Solomone Kata will definitely have his hands full trying to keep Roberts away from the tryline. Watch for the young Titans halves, Aidan Sezer and Kane Elgey, too. Both have points to prove, for slightly different reasons. Sezer will be keen to show the Titans what they’ve given up to sign Daly Cherry-Evans (maybe? Doesn’t this transfer system need to change in a hurry?!), while Elgey will want to continue the promising start he’s made to his career and demonstrate he’s the long-term partner for DCE.

Their forward pack is strong, without being excellent, particularly without the Coal Train, Dave Taylor (out of action with suspension troubles) and the chance that Nate Myles may still be suffering with injury. However, with Greg Bird and Beau Falloon, especially, sniffing around for any opportunities to move their side further upfield, it would be criminal to underestimate the Titans’ operation. Watch for the desperation as they edge their way towards one line and then the next line.

So make sure you’re not fooled by the warm-ups, this Titans side will come to town determined not to be a sideshow.

Coach McFadden has made his biggest statement of the year to date, dropping Konrad Hurrell back to the NSW Cup in favour of David Fusitu’a. Konrad has paid the ultimate price for his errors, and, by making the personnel change, McFadden has emphasised the importance of doing the basics right. The Hungry, Hungry Hippo, Albert Vete, also makes way, along with the unlucky Dominique Peyroux. With Sam Rapira the prop chosen to replace Vete, could this signal the end of Suaia Matagi’s Warriors career? If so, it seems a great shame considering the progress he made last year. However, he’s fallen behind the youngsters so far this season and Warriors’ management may not be willing to stand in Matagi’s way if he receives a better opportunity. Sometimes, if you love something, you’ve got to let it go.

NRL Warrior Prediction: The Warriors have made it impossible to predict so far this season, but I’m tipping Anzac Day will be the day they finally get things right for an entire match. They’ll have nice memories of the Titans in Penrose after last year’s 42-0 drubbing, and with the positive buzz around the club after The Beast signed on for three more years, the time is right for the Warriors to put on a show. Warriors by 16.

What To Watch For: Make sure you get there early — come straight from the dawn parade even — as it’s another triple-header at Our Rightful Home. The Holden Cup game starts at 9:40am, with the NSW Cup at 11:40am and the NRL’s Super Saturday kicking off at the earlier than originally announced time of 1:45. The NSW Cup match in particular is worth close attention, with the likes of Hurrell, Matagi, Vete, Glen Fisiiahi, Sione Lousi, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Siliva Havili and Ken Maumolo on display. The axe has already fallen on Hurrell and Vete, so look for these fringe players to shout ‘pick me’ and keep the pressure right on that top side.

Highlights from the last meeting:

Teams:

WARRIORS

1 Tuimoala Lolohea

2 Jonathan Wright

3 David Fusitu’a

4 Solomone Kata

5 Manu Vatuvei

6 Chad Townsend

7 Shaun Johnson

8 Jacob Lillyman

9 Thomas Leuluai

10 Ben Matulino

11 Bodene Thompson

12 Ryan Hoffman

13 Simon Mannering (c)

Interchange

14 Nathan Friend

15 Raymond Faitala-Mariner

16 Sam Lisone

17 Sam Rapira

18 Dominique Peyroux

TITANS

Titans

1 Josh Hoffman

2 Anthony Don

3 James Roberts

4 William Zillman

5 David Mead

6 Aidan Sezer

7 Kane Elgey

8 Luke Douglas

9 Beau Falloon

10 Nate Myles

11 Ryan James

12 Lachlan Burr

13 Greg Bird

Interchange

14 Matt White

15 Edward Pettybourne

16 Matt Robinson

17 Kierran Moseley

18 Mark Ioane

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