General Wounded warriors a worry for sharks


League: Wounded Warriors a worry for Sharks

Saturday August 5, 2006
By Robert Lowe

Coach Stuart Raper believes Cronulla's challenge tonight will be tougher now the Warriors are poised for an early end to their NRL season.

Raper says he has warned his players not to expect an easy ride in Auckland, despite the Warriors heading for another September without finals football.

"They've got nothing to lose now," he said. They'll go out there and go for broke."

Raper said the fact the Warriors had made the fixture the testimonial match for second rower Awen Guttenbeil would also fire up the home side.

Cronulla's own playoff hopes are in the balance. Five consecutive defeats have dropped them to eighth spot, which they occupy on points difference.

The losing streak has put the spotlight on their halves combination of skipper Brett Kimmorley and Adam Dykes. The Sharks have won only four of their past 20 games when both have been on the field.

But Raper defended the partnership, saying people isolated the pair's statistics in a way they didn't for players in other positions.

"Really, those things don't concern me," he said.

"I look at the way we are playing as a team and how the individuals are performing on a week-to-week basis for team selection."

Raper said there was no particular reason for the run of poor results, although injuries and not getting the bounce of the ball had contributed.

But the competition was such that one incident could decide a contest.

"One slip-up, one bad call, one dropped ball or one missed tackle can cost you the game, and that's happened to us a little bit," he said.

"Although our form has dipped, I don't think it has dipped dramatically. The last two weeks, I've been pretty happy with our performance, albeit we didn't get the results."

The Sharks travelled from Sydney on Wednesday, a day earlier than usual.

Raper said the decision to spend extra time in New Zealand wasn't a response to the losing streak, but had been made four weeks ago.

This week was chance to break up the latter part of the season with a mini-camp.

In the Sharks team is bench prop Richard Villasanti, who will make his first trip back to Mt Smart Stadium since leaving the Warriors in May after 5 1/2 seasons.

Another former Warrior in Cronulla colours is Kiwi centre Nigel Vagana.

There will also be New Zealand interest in the performance of winger Luke Covell, who played for New Zealand A last year and could be on the Kiwi selectors' radar for the end-of-year Tri-Nations series.

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary is confident motivation won't be a problem tonight.

His players' professionalism, as well as memories of a couple of poor performances, would be sufficient incentive.

"It's almost a bit of a slap in the face to say they can only be motivated by making the finals," he said.

"Certainly, we weren't happy with what we dished out at the weekend. They're all proud guys and they'll be looking to get out there and show what they can really do."

Another display the Warriors wanted to put right was their last meeting with the Sharks, in Sydney in late May.

They went down 34-20 that night in what Cleary said at the time was their worst performance of the year. If that result "touched the nerve endings" this week, it would be a good thing.

The Warriors are without two key players - suspended vice-captain Ruben Wiki and lock Sione Faumuina, who is out with a season-ending injury.

Wiki is sitting out a one-match ban for a high tackle, and Faumuina will miss what would have been his 100th NRL appearance because of a wrist problem, which may require surgery.

Wiki's absence means Evarn Tuimavave, who sat out against the Panthers, will start as prop.

The Warriors also welcome back fullback Brent Webb, who missed the past two rounds with a hip injury. His replacement, Patrick Ah Van, moves back to the wing.

Cleary said the return of the Leeds-bound Webb was a boost, and not only because of his individual skills.

"He's a really important link to our team in a whole lot aspects," he said.

"Patrick has been doing a good job, but in terms of familiarity and seniority, it's a different feel out there with Brent."

Warriors v Sharks
Mt Smart Stadium 7.30 tonight

Brent Webb, Patrick Ah Van, Tony Martin, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Jerome Ropati, Grant Rovelli, Evarn Tuimavave, Nathan Fien, Steve Price (c), Awen Guttenbeil, Wairangi Koopu, Louis Anderson.
Interchange (from): George Gatis, Sam Rapira, , Epalahame Lauaki, Micheal Luck, George Tuakura.

Brett Kearney, Darren Albert, Nigel Vagana, Ben Pomeroy, Luke Covell, Adam Dykes, B. Kimmorley (c), James Stosic, Kevin Kingston, Luke Douglas, Reece Williams, Lance Thompson, Paul Gallen.
Interchange (from): Richard Villasanti, Matt Hilder, Cameron Ciraldo, Beau Scott, Darren Mapp.



its going to be a great game, pride for the warriors, 8 spot for the sharks. may the warriors kick arse.


danco said:
its going to be a great game, pride for the warriors, 8 spot for the sharks. may the warriors kick arse.

Giv e Sharks a taste of their own...bite! :lol:


Think we'll get 10,000 to the match or will it be another advertisment as to why games should be taken on the road.


We shall see what happens. All I know is that while numbers can be low those who DO GO make so much noise it's brilliant no end.


RS_Dragon said:
Think we'll get 10,000 to the match or will it be another advertisment as to why games should be taken on the road.

The weather here (Auckland) is horrible, but I'm still hoping for a good turnout, considering the importance of this match to Awen.

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