NRL 2021: Wounded NZ Warriors prepare to add star prop Addin Fonua-Blake to growing casualty ward

The NZ Warriors are preparing to be without key forward Addin Fonua-Blake for another week, at least.

The Kiwi side's marquee off-season acquisition limped from the field with a knee injury just minutes into the 32-12 loss to Sydney Roosters on Sunday night.

Awaiting the results of further scans, coach Nathan Brown couldn't confirm the exact nature of the Tonga international's issues, but expects to be without his services against Fonua-Blake's former club, Manly Sea Eagles on Friday.

"When blokes of that toughness come off, there's a problem," says Brown.

"You've just got to hope that it's only a minor one and he doesn’t miss too much [footy]," Brown says.

Fonua-Blake's situation compounds the Warriors' substantial injury woes, with first-choice players Euan Aitken, Chanel Harris-Tavita, and Peta Hiku already facing lengthy layoffs.

"I don't know what Addin's problem is at the moment, but I'd be highly surprised if he was going to be able to play just looking at the fact he came off after [13] minutes and he couldn't go back on."

"It'd be highly unlikely [to play] on such a short turnaround … I've got a few blokes wounded. 

"Unfortunately, we lost a couple in the first half like they did. In the current game, sides are going through a bit of carnage with injuries."

Fonua-Blake nurses his knee injury on Sunday.
Fonua-Blake nurses his knee injury on Sunday. Photo credit: Getty

The 25-year-old has made an immediate impression for his new side, leading a rejuvenated forward pack and adding the kind of midfield impetus the Warriors have been lacking in recent years.

His absence was glaring at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where Brown conceded that his side were overwhelmed by the defending champions' high-paced style of play, particularly around the ruck.

"They played very quick and took a lot of juice out of us, so therefore we did a lot of yardage kicks - they were doing a lot of attacking kicks," Brown notes.

"The other thing that stood out was they saved three or four tries where we didn't save any tries.

"The better teams find ways to keep you from scoring, and obviously the Roosters have been up there for a fair while now.

"We're playing top-four teams, so [we leaked] too many points, for sure … When we came up against those top-four sides, it showed that we've got some work to do.

“We're not quite where we'd like to be but that's where we are at the minute."

The Roosters' defence made some lengthy tryline stands, repelling multiple waves of Warriors' attacks, before seizing the momentum themselves, as 18-year-old half Sam Walker took the reins in a head-turning first-grade debut.

The Warriors were held scoreless in the second half, while the Sydneysiders - missing a host of first-string players - reeled off 16 unanswered points to claim a comfortable victory.

The NZ side - despite enjoying a wealth of possession - failed to muster many genuine scoring opportunities, although Brown was reluctant to point the finger at halves Kodi Nikorima and Sean O'Sullivan.

"It's hard to be too critical of your halves under those situations [losing the ruck battle]," he said.

The defeat sees the Warriors slip to 11th on the NRL ladder, with a quick turnaround to face the struggling Sea Eagles - who are winless at the bottom of the standings - on Friday.

Join us for live updates of Warriors v Sea Eagles from Friday, 6pm.