War­riors wary of slip­pery Eels

The Press - - News - Marvin France

A match against the side run­ning dead last shapes as an ideal op­po­nent when try­ing to bounce back from a 32-point drub­bing.

But tonight’s clash against the un­der­achiev­ing Eels in Syd­ney has dan­gergame writ­ten all over it for the War­riors.

Tipped by many pun­dits at the start of the year as a top-four con­tender, Par­ra­matta’s sea­son is al­ready on life sup­port after record­ing only two wins from their open­ing 10 matches.

The Brad Arthur-coached team has had in­jury is­sues with six reg­u­lar first-graders side­lined, in­clud­ing star full­back Jar­ryd Hayne and for­wards Tim Man­nah and Nathan Brown, while vet­eran back-rower Beau Scott is also in doubt due to a shoul­der con­cern.

Things went from bad to worse this week when Eels chair­man Max Don­nelly pub­licly ques­tioned the team’s cul­ture after back-rower Kenny Ed­wards failed to in­form the club of a driving of­fence, more than two weeks after the event. Ed­wards has been stood down in­def­i­nitely.

But even tak­ing all that into ac­count, the Eels still pos­sess a qual­ity ros­ter which be­lies their po­si­tion on the ta­ble.

Halves Corey Nor­man and Mitchell Moses have yet to gel this sea­son but if they do, Michael Jen­nings, Clint Guther­son and Brad Takairangi of­fer plenty of strike power out wide.

De­spite the in­juries up front, the likes of Ton­gan en­forcer Manu Ma’u, Te­pai Mo­eroa and former War­rior Suaia Matagi give Eels pack an ag­gres­sive look.

With Par­ra­matta’s backs against the wall, the third-placed War­riors need to be

‘‘We’ll be go­ing back to ba­sics this week.’’ Si­mon Man­ner­ing

wary of an am­bush but vet­eran Si­mon Man­ner­ing has been around far too long to get caught up in what other teams are do­ing on or off the field.

Be­sides, the War­riors have been busy ad­dress­ing their own is­sues after last week’s dis­ap­point­ing de­feat to the Roost­ers.

‘‘It doesn’t mat­ter where teams sit on the ta­ble, that’s the beauty of our com­pe­ti­tion,’’ Man­ner­ing said.

‘‘You just can’t af­ford to look at who’s in form or who’s on what points be­cause a team turns up on the week and you’re just off slightly, you’ll get found out. So we’re very much fo­cused on our own per­for­mance.’’

Much of that has cen­tred on tak­ing a phys­i­cal mind­set into tonight’s clash.

Against the Roost­ers, Man­ner­ing felt they tried to use the ball with­out gen­er­at­ing any mo­men­tum at the ruck and stressed the im­por­tance of get­ting back to what worked for them ear­lier in the sea­son.

‘‘[We] tried to do it a bit fancy when we re­ally just needed to grind it out, do it tough and back our­selves in that area of the game,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ll be go­ing back to ba­sics this week and back­ing our­selves on what we’ve built our per­for­mances on this year.’’

Man­ner­ing is set to start from the bench for the third-straight game as coach Stephen Kear­ney con­tin­ues to jug­gle his work­load with fel­low vet­eran Adam Blair.

The 31-year-old back-rower has a big de­ci­sion to make over the next few weeks as he weighs up whether to pro­long his ca­reer.

It’s strange to see the War­riors great on the in­ter­change but he doesn’t see it as a neg­a­tive.

‘‘I’m en­joy­ing it,’’ Man­ner­ing said. ‘‘We’ve got good depth through­out the side so I guess it just works with our ro­ta­tion and in­ter­changes. But I’m just en­joy­ing be­ing on the field after miss­ing the first half of the games we’ve had.’’

The War­riors will be with­out half­back Shaun John­son for the sec­ond straight week due to an an­kle in­jury. His deputy Ma­son Lino is also car­ry­ing a lower leg prob­lem but is ex­pected to play, as is hooker Is­sac Luke after he missed the Roost­ers game with a shoul­der in­jury.

GETTY IM­AGES

War­riors vet­eran Si­mon Man­ner­ing has no prob­lems with his new role com­ing off the bench.

PHOTOSPORT

Hooker Is­sac Luke is set to re­turn from in­jury against the Eels tonight.

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