While most of the talk has centred around Steven Price and the Warriors forward pack; former Parramatta Eels players Wade McKinnon and Michael Witt hold the key for the Warriors tonight – their skillset and passionate style is just the ticket to fire up the locals against their old club.
While always showing plenty of promise, Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon has been a relevation this year at the Warriors – not only safe at the back, but his injection into the Warriors attacking plays has been breath taking. In much the same way as former Warriors custodian Brent Webb – McKinnon keeps busy in attack, his raw speed, acceleration and light stepping leaves opposition tacklers clutching at thin air and he flies by.
McKinnon is the type of player than can make something happen from nothing, the spark that can turn a game – switching all the momentum his teams way.
In the halves, former Parramatta and Manly utility Michael Witt has seemingly found a happy home at the Warriors; making the five eight position his own and building a nice combination with Grant Rovelli in the halves.
A confidence player, Witt can be hard to stop when things are going his way. His elusive stepping and small frame can be a nightmare for opposition forwards centre field. Never one to hold back, Witt regularly looks for short chip kick opportunities and flick passes when things are rolling along for his side. The conditions and finals atmosphere tonight may hinder some of his free flowing style and the Warriors will want to keep the ball away from Jarryd Hayne when there is open space in front of him. Nevertheless, Witt’s ability and passion will be a big driving force against his former club.
The Auckland weather report today suggests excessive cloud cover, possible light rain tonight and is showing evidence of a light to medium breeze. As predicted, conditions like this mean that both sides will need to show patience and on-going ball control. A low scoring game should be seen tonight despite the fact that both teams like to throw the ball around – so forget tipping the overs, if you like a bet.
The home town advantage, proven form at home and longer preparation period certainly earn the Warriors the favourites tag.
NRL News Tip: Warriors by 8 points