Manly's finals experience handy: Cleary - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly's finals experience handy: Cleary

By Steve Jancetic and Xavier LaCanna 24/09/2008 07:29:29 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand Warriors coach Ivan Cleary claims the experience of last year's NRL finals series will ensure Manly are ready to go at the opening whistle on Saturday night.

Cleary brushed off suggestions the Sea Eagles would vulnerable in the preliminary final's early exchanges after enjoying the weekend off courtesy of their big win over St George Illawarra in the opening week of the playoffs.

It's in stark contrast to the two bruising encounters the Warriors have had to put their bodies through just to get to the grand final qualifier, plus the trips back and forth across the Tasman the players have endured.

"(Manly) did the same thing last year, so I am sure they have had a bit of experience of what to do in terms of their preparation over two weeks," Cleary said.

"I expect them to be absolutely ready.

"Having said that, our self-belief is building and momentum is behind us a little bit."

Sea Eagles back-rower Glenn Stewart denied the break had disrupted his side's momentum, claiming the week off had refreshed the squad.

Asked about the Warriors building momentum over the finals series, Stewart said the Eagles had gathered theirs over the course of the regular season, a run which includes 12 wins from their last 15 matches.

"I would definitely say we've got the advantage having had the week off," Stewart said.

"It's better than going out and bashing yourself up for 80 minutes where we didn't have to."

Coming into last week's semi-final against the Sydney Roosters, Cleary emphasised the need for a fast start.

He didn't get it as the Roosters ran up a 13-6 halftime lead before the Warriors stormed home to win 30-13.

Against Melbourne in week one of the finals, the Warriors also left it late before becoming the first eighth-placed team to beat a minor premier.

But the two comebacks haven't changed Cleary's tune.

"Both coaches understand the need to start well," he said.

"It is always important to start well. It doesn't mean everything but it certainly makes things a bit easier, so I think there will be a lot of intensity in the game and the early exchanges will be pretty fierce.

"It's what finals football is all about.

"I think you have seen in the last few weeks in all the games just the ferocity and intensity is really up a notch, so I am sure it won't be any different this week."

The Warriors fly into Sydney on Thursday with a clean bill of health and will hold their final training run at the Sydney Football Stadium on Friday morning.

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