Warriors wary of Storm-like Eels - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors wary of Storm-like Eels

11/03/2011 04:53:55 PM Comments (0)

The Warriors are preparing for some 'Melbourne-style wrestle' when they open their 2011 NRL season against a Parramatta side already showing the hallmarks of coach Stephen Kearney's handiwork.

Having already had a taste of the new-look Eels after the two sides met in a pre-season match in Rotorua last month, the Warriors claim Kearney has already put his stamp on the club.

Nowhere was that more evident than in the ruck, with Warriors skipper Simon Mannering noting a more concerted effort in slowing down the play the ball in a similar fashion to that of Melbourne - where Kearney spent five years as an assistant under Craig Bellamy.

"You saw it in the trial game," Mannering said.

"They looked a pretty tidy outfit and I'm sure he would have fine-tuned things a bit since them.

"(There was) always three in the tackle and a very good wrestle, and it's a key part of the games these days.

"It looks like he's brought a lot of that to Parramatta and I think it will make them a lot better team."

While the Warriors won the trial 24-4, Kiwi Test centre Jerome Ropati wasn't reading too much into the result, with the Eels missing star duo Nathan Hindmarsh and Jarryd Hayne.

The Warriors too were down on troops that day, but they enter the match to be played at the rugby union stronghold of Eden Park as favourites after adding some key pieces to last year's side which bowed out in the second week of the finals.

Former Kangaroos representative Shaun Berrigan makes his debut off the bench after returning from a stint in Super League, but it is the potential impact of former Eel Feleti Mateo which is most intriguing.

After starring alongside Hayne in Parramatta's charge to the 2009 grand final, Mateo paid the price for the club's inconsistent start to 2010 with the Eels failing to offer him a contract.

The Warriors pounced, and after being selected in the second row against his former club, Mateo is ready to go in what shapes as a devastating combination alongside Ropati and giant winger Manu Vatuvei.

"When you have Feleti on your side and you have Manu on the wing, that's a great left edge," Ropati said.

"It's new to us to have a back rower who can ball-play for us like that.

"That's something we've been focusing on in the pre-season - watching and learning how Feleti plays. We have to be on the alert to expect anything when he gets the ball."

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