NRL more competitive than ever: Cleary - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL more competitive than ever: Cleary

By Tamara McLean 08/04/2009 03:49:39 PM Comments (0)

The 2009 NRL competition is the most competitive it's been in years, according to Warriors coach Ivan Cleary who hopes his team will have the edge over equally-placed Newcastle this weekend.

Cleary said he's never seen the ladder or the squads so evenly placed, with no teams clearly dominating by the end of round four.

"Usually there are one or two teams that are sitting above the rest slightly but if you look across the whole comp this year it is extremely even," he said.

"It's probably as even as I've ever seen it. Not just the table but the teams."

The Warriors have followed two wins with two losses but remain just two points behind front runners South Sydney, who defeated the Kiwis in a hard fought match in Auckland on Sunday.

"We controlled the game for the most part in the weekend but couldn't get the job done," Cleary said.

"But Souths are now sitting top of the comp.

"It just goes to show that we aren't too far off but I guess everyone could say that."

The biggest so far has been the four straight losses for last year's premiers, Manly, who are nailed to the bottom of the ladder.

The Warriors will now make the long journey to take on the Knights, who have a matching scorecard after a consecutive win loss scenario.

Cleary said Newcastle had done well to beat Manly last week and would be tough competition.

"I'm sure they have a bit of confidence, they have plenty of good players and they play good, solid football," he said.

"They are just another hard time."

The Kiwi side is battle weary already this season, with eight players, including skipper Steve Price and utility Lance Hohaia, out due to injury.

Star centre Brent Tate suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury in round three.

Manu Vatuvei has also been out with a knee injury but Cleary said there was a 50-50 chance he would decide to bring the winger over.

"We aren't going to risk him so we'll just have to see how that goes," the coach said.

"If it's touch and go he won't be playing."

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