Ivan Cleary wants more mental toughness - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ivan Cleary wants more mental toughness

26/04/2008 02:13:52 PM Comments (0)

Coach Ivan Cleary sees greater mental strength as the key to overturning the New Zealand Warriors' poor away form this NRL this season.

The Warriors, who have lost all three matches in Australia, face the table-topping Gold Coast at Skilled Park on Sunday.

Not only have Cleary's side come away from Melbourne, Manly and North Queensland empty-handed, but the margin of defeat each time has been decisive.

In contrast, they have won all three fixtures at home.

"It's mental," Cleary said of his team's woes on the road.

"When things are not going great for us, we're not handling it. For some reason, we do it better here."

Cleary ruled out using the absence of influential skipper Steve Price and line-breaking fullback Wade McKinnon through injury as an excuse.

And the fact that the Warriors had had a tough start to their schedule, with trips so far to three of last year's top four sides, wasn't much consolation.

"It's superficial comfort really because I'm certainly not happy with how we've gone," Cleary said.

"It's not acceptable and it's not something we pride ourselves on. It's about getting tougher and handling adversity a bit better when we're in unfamiliar surroundings."

In their 48-20 defeat to the Cowboys, the Warriors were again made to pay for self-inflicted errors - their completion rate was just 68 per cent, the second lowest of the weekend.

In that match they were tormented by Johnathan Thurston and they face another in-form halfback on Sunday in Scott Prince, the Titans' co-captain.

Prince's touch has been such that he has been touted for the Australian team by the likes of fellow Titan Mat Rogers and possible Test opponent Benji Marshall.

Marshall said Prince, a former teammate at Wests Tigers, demanded inclusion in the Kangaroo side for the centenary Test against New Zealand in Sydney next month.

"Princey's killing them at the moment and, whether they play him seven or six, I don't think he would look out of place," Marshall said.

"He's definitely my No.1 contender."

Adding to the challenge facing the Warriors is the fact that the Titans haven't lost in four starts this year at their new Skilled Park venue in Robina, where they have drawn big crowds.

Gold Coast have added Luke Swain to their squad with lock Daniel Conn ruled out of the clash with a hamstring injury.

Josh Graham is likely to come into the starting 13.

Cleary meanwhile, has made three changes to his squad, two of them injury-related.

Winger Michael Crockett and centre Ryan Shortland come in for Patrick Ah Van, who received a heavy knock against the Cowboys, and Jerome Ropati, who picked up a hamstring injury.

On the bench, experience second rower Wairangi Koopu replaces youngster Sonny Fai.

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