Warriors wary ahead of Roosters clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors wary ahead of Roosters clash

By Chris Barclay 03/08/2007 05:49:16 AM Comments (0)

Even the most ardent New Zealand Warriors' fans could be forgiven for not believing what they've been seeing during the club's NRL resurgence.

After enduring a demoralising six-match losing streak through May-June their faith has been rewarded by a run of six wins in seven matches - a sequence that has elevated the Warriors to fourth on the NRL ladder.

That lofty position could yet translate to a home playoff come finals time though the Warriors' players this week sounded a note of caution before Sunday's clash with the Sydney Roosters at Aussie Stadium.

"The table's a bit misleading really," said halfback Grant Rovelli, a key ingredient in the Warriors' push for the post-season.

"It sounds good but we're not that far away from dropping down."

Although fourth on 22 points, four more teams are on the same tally with just the Warriors' positive points differential (111) giving them the edge.

There is also the matter of just four points separating fourth from 13th spot on the ladder, meaning their is no cause for complacency although with just five round remaining the Warriors should be assured of figuring in the finals for the first time since 2003.

The Warriors' run-in features just one side ahead of them, Manly, but the ultra-competitive nature of the competition means the Roosters cannot be taken for granted.

A month after suffering a 52-0 defeat by the Sea Eagles, Brad Fittler's mercy mission had paid dividends with Chris Anderson's rookie replacement guiding the 2002 premiers to three straight wins.

Now 12th, they do not enjoy the Warriors' security but if they can arrest a recent form slump against them they will continue their unlikely bid for a place in the top eight.

Fittler has worked wonders since assuming command with wins over Cronulla, Newcastle and table-topping Melbourne.

Those victories equal the best start by a caretaker coach in NRL history, with Fittler joining Peter Sharp who achieved the mark in 1999 with Manly.

The Fittler factor has figured high in the Warriors' thinking this week, such is the regard he is held in at Mt Smart.

"He's a fresh face at the helm, he's got new ideas and Freddie's obviously been a big part of that club," said veteran forward Logan Swann.

"He commands a lot of respect .... players want to play for him.

"There's not many players that have done it (the transition to coaching) successfully but Freddie's got them travelling quite well."

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary, who is making an admirable fist of his transition, never doubted Fittler's ability to make the crossover after benefiting from his play making ability between 1996-99.

"I played four years with Freddie - there was never any doubt he could do it.

"The first thing is the respect everyone has for him.

"He's a natural leader and it's probably a good time to come in and put his stamp on things.

"He's seen it and done it all and worked under a lot of good coaches.

"He's got the Roosters are on a roll - it'll be a pretty intense game."

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