New Zealand Warriors

Warriors recruit Blake Green could be buy of the year: Soward

Running the rule over all 16 clubs ahead of the 2018 season, the former Dragons and Panthers star also named Knights recruit Connor Watson as the man under most pressure to perform at the club, even ahead of high-profile signing Mitch Pearce.

Soward also backed young Storm half Brodie Croft to seamlessly slip into Cooper Cronk's shoes and help the club press for back-to-back titles.

n terms of the Warriors, Soward identified Green as the man to reverse the problems that have dogged the talent-laden, but underperforming, team in recent years.

New Zealand Warriors predicted Round 1 line-up

There is plenty of depth when it comes to the pack and outside backs meaning some relatively experienced first-graders will be missing out in both positions. At this stage, the likes of Ken Maumalo, Mason Lino, Ligi Sao and Blake Ayshford might not crack the 21.

NRL.com expert Jamie Soward says:

Unwanted record awaits Warriors

A loss at Leichhardt Oval will make it nine-straight defeats for the Kiwi franchise, setting a new record for their worst run ever in a single season, and confirming they will finish their 2017 season without a win in three months of football. 

While some players this week said they weren't aware of the record, and others brushed it off, playmaker Ata Hingano confronted the issue with refreshing honesty.

Kearney rules out Vatuvei forward switch

With the 31-year-old having fallen behind Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu'a and rookie Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in the race for a wing spot in the first-grade side, there have been suggestions that Vatuvei could bring his 226 games worth of experience to the pack as an impact forward off the bench.

Greenwood-Elgey combo major weapon for Titans

As Titans five-eighth Kane Elgey drifted left late in the final minute of the first half against the Cowboys in Townsville last Saturday night, back-rower Joe Greenwood speared back on an angle.

Elgey hit the towering Englishman with a short ball 12 metres from the Cowboys try-line, a wonderful tackle down low by Lachlan Coote all that stopped Greenwood from crossing for his third try of the season.

Warriors won't sleep on Canberra's left

After the Green Machine's right side of Jordan Rapana, Joseph Leilua and Elliott Whitehead tore the Gold Coast Titans apart in last week's 46-16 victory, scoring five of the Raiders' eight tries and making a combined 26 tackle breaks, it comes as little surprise that they have dominated much of the pre-match discussion.

Warriors unchanged for Eels clash

Bodene Thompson has been named in the second row after playing only the first half against the Titans. Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney brought James Gavet off the bench to start last weekend but he has again listed Charlie Gubb as veteran prop Jacob Lillyman's starting front-row partner.

Foran named in reserves for Warriors

Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been named to return this week while Tuimoala Lolohea moves back to the right wing where he started the season. Ken Maumalo switches back to the left wing to replace veteran Manu Vatuvei who was forced off with knee trouble in his first 2017 NRL outing last week.

Vatuvei to aid Warriors' forward effort

Still without experienced prop Ben Matulino due to injury, and with his forwards having struggled at times to assert themselves in contests against the Knights and Storm, Kearney's inclusion of the 109kg Vatuvei effectively gives the Warriors another middle forward to lean on early in tackle counts.

Kieran Foran cleared to play for Warriors

However, Foran will not be permitted to play until Round Three and his return is subject to a further psychological assessment to ensure he is in the right frame of mind to play in the NRL.