Match Preview: NRL - WAR v SYD

In a first for the Sydney Roosters tonight, Eden Park will play host to an NRL fixture as we meet the New Zealand Warriors in a bid to claim our first victory of the 2013 season following last weekends loss to the Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium.


The Auckland-based side will also be out to claim their first win of the year following last weekends drumming at the hands of the Parramatta Eels, which sets up a cracker of a match across the ditch.


Roosters coach Trent Robinson has made just one change to his starting side from Round 1 with high-profile recruit Sonny Bill Williams promoted from the bench to the number twelve jersey in place of Mitchell Aubusson, who takes his place on the bench.


We caught up with assistant coach Craig Fitzgibbon, who had a simple answer to how he thought Sonny would be feeling in the lead up to his first start in the NRL in over 5 years.


I think itll be a huge occasion for the New Zealand contingent, and no one more than Sonny. Hell be looking forward to the challenge of starting.


In the only other changes to the side, Tinirau Arona has been left out of the squad and will be replaced by one of three faces on an extended bench in the form of Luke ODonnell, Boyd Cordner or 2012 NYC star Dylan Napa.


The assistant coach told Roosters.com.au that it was the hard-work over the off-season that had awarded Napa the chance.


Hes an impressive young kid and is quite physical. Hes worked really hard in the pre-season to get himself in the frame and his form has warranted him getting a chance to be in the squad.


ODonnell, another high-profile new face at Bondi this season, will feature for his fourth NRL club if he takes the field tonight after already having appeared for Balmain, Wests Tigers and the Cowboys in a career that has spanned 15 years since debuting in 1999.


After a disappointing result in front of a near packed out Allianz Stadium last week, the Roosters will face their former assistant coach in Matt Elliot who took over the Kiwi side for the 2013 season.


Asked about last weekends loss, Fitzgibbon was confident that the occasion hadnt got the better of the side and credit was due to a solid-looking Souths side.


Against a team like South Sydney, we knew wed have to be good but turned over a little bit too much ball and the pressure eventually tolled.


Theyre a good team and it kills us to say that as Roosters, but well be better for the run and will learn from our mistakes and move on.


Elliot has made just two changes to his starting side for the match against his former side, with Bill Tupou coming in to replace the injured Manu Vatuvei and Steve Rapira switching from the bench to the back row with the ever-dangerous Feleti Mateo.


Mateos move to the bench may have surprised many given the attacking weapon he is for the slick Warriors outside backs, however its expected hell feature heavily within the Eden Park clash.


James Maloney will also return to his former club tonight, with the playmaker showing some positive signs last weekend in his fresh combination with Mitchell Pearce. The two will no doubt be out to improve on their Round 1 showing and Fitzgibbon believes they, along with the whole squad, are just keen to get out in the middle again and play some footy.


When you have a loss like that, against your arch-rivals, all you want to do is get back out there and make up for that.


The boys have trained hard this week and are ready to go.


Lets hope so. Bring on the footy!


For the Team Lists click here


NRL Warriors v Roosters

Fox Sports 1 (Ch. 501), LIVE at 5.30pm


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