UNDER FIRE: Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has copped flak for benching and demoting players.
UNDER FIRE: Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has copped flak for benching and demoting players. JULIAN SMITH

Warriors coach wary of fast-tracking young guns

RUGBY LEAGUE: The Warriors have a talented roster containing some of the brightest young prospects in the game but coach Andrew McFadden is wary of fast-tracking their development and over-exposing them to the unrelenting grind of the NRL.

The Warriors’ wealth of young talent is the envy of most clubs and while some players could leave for a guaranteed starting spot in other teams, McFadden believes their long-term careers will benefit from a gradual introduction to first grade.

McFadden has not hesitated to bench the likes of Kiwis international Tui Lolohea, or hold back or demote others such as Ken Maumalo, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Charlie Gubb, Jazz Tevaga, John Palavi, Toafofoa Sipley or new sensation Bunty Afoa.

After being on the receiving end of intense criticism for limiting the game time of 21-year-old Lolohea in recent weeks, McFadden says drip-feeding his rookies into the NRL is for the mental and physical benefit of the individual and greater good of his team.

“It’s a tough competition and these guys are still learning,” said McFadden ahead of the Warriors’ clash with the Raiders at Canberra’s GIO Stadium tomorrow.

“People don’t understand the relentless nature and how tough it is for these young men. At the moment, young players, sometimes they come in and out, and that’s the nature of it.”

“They’re still very talented and doing a great job, but I get to see them seven days a week and see their energy levels and understand how they’re feeling emotionally, and that’s certainly factored into my decision-making when I pick the team.

“With young guys, it’s really important to manage their energy. It’s tough to get them up for every week and certainly their enthusiasm is great when they come in.

“But the hard part about this game is the week-to-week relentless nature of the competition. That’s tough for young players.”