Warriors have NRL's triple-X factor - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors have NRL's triple-X factor

Joe Barton 06/09/2011 01:51:56 PM Comments (0)

While most teams will be looking towards their X-factor players for inspiration this NRL finals series, the Warriors can boast a triple-X factor that makes them this year's premiership darkhorse.

In fullback Kevin Locke, winger Manu Vatuvei and gun halfback Shaun Johnson the Warriors have three of the most exciting players in the NRL in their positions.

The trio combine the fleet-footed skills of Johnson and his Billy Slater-clone teammate Locke with Vatuvei's brute force and devastating runs on the wing.

When you add in Feleti Mateo's sublime skills at lock, and winger Krisnan Inu's career-best form, the Warriors certainly start to look a daunting prospect for any of their top eight rivals - something which has convinced captain Simon Mannering his squad is capable of taking out the trophy this year.

"Any team that is good enough to make the eight is good enough to go all the way," he calmly states.

"It's definitely a massive asset to the side to have guys in crucial positions that can create something out of nothing.

"Kevin and Manu are two massive parts of our team and they'll handle it very well.

"Kevin has been in the top grade for a few years now, and has been really coming into his own at fullback."

Johnson has been a revelation since making his debut in round 13, showing all the skills and brilliance which made him a Toyota Cup star of recent years.

The former touch footy star has scored six tries and laid on a further 12, while also producing five line-breaks in just 12 first grade appearances this year.

Mannering admits to being amazed at the confidence the 20-year-old has shown in his short time in the top grade.

"I guess it's a credit to the development at the club and how they've handled him," Mannering told AAP.

"I know when I started I was shit-scared to throw a pass so when you look at the things he's doing you know he's got a lot of self belief.

"And rightly so with the skills he's got. He's does a lot of hard work off the field and it's definitely paying off.

"He's definitely improved a lot over the weeks with steering the team around and with his defence.

"I'm really impressed with how he's handled himself and I'm sure it's going to continue.

"He's in a crucial position for any side and if the club can keep bringing him through the way he is, he's going to be a massive part of the Warriors future."

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