Warriors expect Benji at his best
Warriors centre Jonathan Wright says the Warriors know any nodding off against a Benji Marshall-inspired St George Illawarra in Wellington could come at a heavy cost.
Wright has been moved in for his defensive qualities, taking over from Konrad Hurrell, who was dropped after the 18-14 NRL defeat to Cronulla last weekend.
While that loss was the Warriors’ third in a row, the Dragons will head to Westpac Stadium on Saturday having last weekend snapped a seven-match losing streak.
The Dragons got back to winning ways by downing Newcastle 46-24, with Marshall running for 155 metres, assisting in three tries and scoring a spectacular effort himself, complete with outrageous dummy.
Wright agrees the former Kiwis skipper is sure to put an additional strain on the Warriors’ edges.
“That’s exactly right and we want to make sure we have pride in our defence,” he said.
“We’ve been really good in most of the games and all of sudden we just switch off for one or two plays and get stung.
“It’s come to the point of the season where we need to make sure we have an 80-minute performance in our D.”
The Warriors’ losing run has dropped them from inside the top four to outside the top eight, although they trail the seventh-placed Dragons only by points differential.
“The boys were very disappointed after the weekend, but we can’t get down on it,” Wright said.
“We’ve got five more weeks to make a good hit at it.”
Coach Andrew McFadden also remains upbeat about the Warriors’ chances of making the play-offs, even if others have written them off after star playmaker Shaun Johnson’s season-ending ankle injury.
“We still have the same opportunity that we had last week – we have to win three,” he said.
“Losing is always disappointing, but we’ve still got something to play for, that’s for sure.”
Although the Warriors have scored a total of just 26 points over the last three rounds, McFadden said defence remained their priority and, against Marshall, patience would be key.
“He obviously makes the whole line accountable,” McFadden said.
“He’s got a lot of options, he’s got good deception. We’re going to need some real patience in our defensive line and minimise the opportunities he gets.”
The Dragons welcome back NSW forward Trent Merrin after a four-game ban for a dangerous throw on Corey Parker in last month’s State of Origin decider.
But they will be without Kiwis winger Jason Nightingale, who rolled his right ankle against the Knights.
They will take a formidable record against the Warriors into the clash.
The Dragons have won 18 of 22 meetings between the sides, and all 10 since the Warriors beat them in 2007.