Keiran Foran will only get better after playing an influential role in the Warriors’ 28-22 come-from-behind NRL win over Gold Coast, halves partner Shaun Johnson believes.
The five-eighth was making his first appearance in 10 months on Sunday, after his planned Warriors debut last week was delayed by a late hamstring strain.
Foran worked his way in to the game in Auckland, becoming more influential as it progressed with his organisation and running at the line.
It was his bust between two defenders with 18 minutes to go that produced his side’s fourth try, which Johnson converted for a 22-22 scoreline.
Johnson says he wasn’t surprised with what Foran managed to produce.
“No, and I don’t even think he was even near his best today – that’s the pleasing thing about it all,” he said.
“It’s a great starting point for him.”
Johnson said Foran’s confidence would build.
“For his first hit-out – jeez, how long had be been out of the game for? – and he comes out and just controls us, gets us to our points and just competes,” he said.
“You see him physically with his defence as well. You get inspired by that sort of stuff.”
With the score locked, Johnson and Titans half Kane Elgey both missed field goal attempts in the last six minutes.
Warriors second-rower Ryan Hoffman also missed with a shot before making up for it with a try two minutes out to put his side back in front.
Both sides entered the contest in front of 10,263 fans at Mt Smart Stadium with one win from four games.
Foran’s presence meant the Warriors boasted the Kiwis’ spine, along with fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Johnson and hooker Issac Luke.
The early signs were promising for the home side and they scored first when Tuivasa-Sheck ran the ball out from the in-goal and Luke made a big break before sending Johnson over.
But the Titans’ enterprise was rewarded by tries to centre Dale Copley and winger Daniel Vidot.
The full Warriors spine was then to the fore – Luke, Foran, Johnson and Tuivasa-Sheck all involved before centre David Fusitu’a produced a one-handed put down.
However the Warriors’ defensive woes meant the Titans finished the half strongly, Elgey bagging a double in three minutes, to lead 22-12.
The first was created by halves partner Ash Taylor and second by fullback Tyrone Roberts.
Roberts failed to finished the match, damaging his right knee early in the second half while defusing a bomb.
Minutes earlier, Tuivasa-Sheck cut the lead, dotting down after busting the line out wide.
Roberts’ injury, as well a head knock to Joe Greenwood and a leg problem for Nathaniel Peteru, meant the Titans finished with a one-man bench.
As well, Ryan Simpkins played on with back spasms.
Coach Neil Henry was forced to make his last interchange with 19 minutes to go but declined to use the casualty toll as an excuse.
He said his players produced plenty but paid for a lack of “footy smarts”.
“There were couple of crucial turnovers, a few players out of position,” he said.
“The game was there but we had no field position in the second half and it wore us down eventually.”