Revamped Warriors chase breakthrough win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Revamped Warriors chase breakthrough win

02/04/2011 12:00:46 PM Comments (0)

It was the combination set to propel the Warriors into the ranks of NRL premiership contenders, but three weeks in and the side's much-vaunted left edge is no more.

The addition of Feleti Mateo as a wide-running backrower to complement Jerome Ropati and Manu Vatuvei had Warriors fans salivating as they dreamt of building on last year's finals appearance.

But as coach Ivan Cleary picks up the pieces from an 0-3 start to the season, all three components of the potentially lethal left edge are gone.

Ropati is done for the year as he undergoes a full knee reconstruction, while Vatuvei lasted 14 minutes of the season opener before suffering a knee injury which could keep him out until May.

And now Mateo has been pitch-forked into the role of five-eighth with Cleary losing patience with underperforming troops as he took an axe to his squad for Sunday's must-win match against Cronulla at Taupo.

Krisnan Inu retained his place as Vatuvei's replacement on the wing while skipper and backrower Simon Mannering will now line up in the centres, with Ropati giving the new-look combination the thumbs up.

"Simon is back at left centre and you have Kris - they're world-class players," he said.

"There's nothing to worry about there."

Mateo was hoping the shift to the the No.6 jumper would allow him to have more of an impact in attack.

"I've probably not seen the ball as much as I would like to," Mateo said.

"Last week I thought I got a few more touches. The gameplan is there in stone, but we haven't really been playing to it.

"If we can get into some rhythm and hold on to the ball, I think we'll start putting points on the board."

The Sharks put points on the board like they haven't in a long time last weekend, with the 44-point haul against Penrith the best since they managed 46 points against Brisbane in June 2009.

That game was also the last time they won three straight matches, which is what they'll be aiming for in their `home' game in the middle of New Zealand's north island.

"I think everyone would have thought the table's been turned around, the Warriors would be two from three and we'd be zero from three," Flanagan said.

"Things can change quickly in rugby league ... they'll be desperate and we'll be taking them in that sort of sense that they'll be out there playing for their lives because no team wants to go zero and four."

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