Warriors wary of slippery Eels
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.
Warriors veteran Simon Mannering has no problems with his new role coming off the bench.
Hooker Issac Luke is set to return from injury against the Eels tonight.