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Manly V Warriors Teams, News, Stats and Chat

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Berkeley_Eagle, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14

    1. Brett Stewart 2. Michael Robertson 3. Steve Bell 4. Steve Matai 5. David Williams
    6. Jamie Lyon 7. Matt Orford ©
    8. Brent Kite 9. Matt Ballin 10. Josh Perry
    11. Anthony Watmough 12. Glenn Hall
    13. Glenn Stewart

    14. Heath L'Estrange
    15. Mark Bryant
    16. Jason King
    17. Steve Menzies
    18. Adam Cuthbertson
    (1 player to be omitted)

    1. Wade McKinnon 2. Aidan Kirk 3. Brent Tate 4. Jerome Ropati 5. Manu Vatuvei
    6. Michael Witt 7. Nathan Fien
    8. Ruben Wiki 9. Ian Henderson 10. Steve Price (c)
    11. Simon Mannering 12. Ben Matulino
    13. Micheal Luck

    Interchange: 14. Lance Hohaia 15. Epalahame Lauaki 16. Sam Rapira 17. Grant Rovelli; Reserves: 18. Logan Swann 19. Evarn Tuimavave

    Referee Shayne Hayne
    Touch Judges: Steve Chiddy & Jeff Younis
    Video Referee: Bill Harrigan
  2. Dan

    Dan Kim Jong Dan Staff Member Administrator 2016 Tipping Competitor 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +7,729 /120
    I thought we had Hayne and not Archer???????
  3. DVS Matt

    DVS Matt Well-Known Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +29 /0
    we'll steam roll them

    yeah i thought we had Hayne....as per admin @ MSE
  4. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    foxsports says Hayne
  5. Nutzcraw

    Nutzcraw Active Member

    +4 /0
    I'll be more than happy to see the warriors go with Hohaia and Rovelli off the bench.

    2 little blokes helps our cause I think. They are gonna need some big boppa's to put up with Kite, Perry, King and Hall.

    Might I add good on Glenn Hall for finding a regular starting spot and also credit must go to big Josh Perry for his stunning form reversal at Manly. Is now our starting prop and I think another gig in the rep scene isn't too far away.
  6. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Manly's Bell confident of fitness

        September 24, 2008

    MANLY centre Steven Bell says he won't jeopardise the Sea Eagles' NRL premiership hopes by playing injured against the Warriors on Saturday night.
    Bell rates himself an 85 per cent chance of playing the preliminary final after completing his first training session since limping off the field with a strained calf muscle two minutes into Manly's win over St George Illawarra a fortnight ago.

    The former Queensland centre admits he felt slightly embarrassed to pull up so early in the qualifying final and doesn't want a repeat in the grand final qualifier and leave his side one man down.

    Manly coach Des Hasler said there were protocols in place to check if Bell is fit to play the Warriors but the player himself said he was likely to make the call.

    “I think Des will ask me if I'm right and if I don't think I'm right then I'm not going to go on for two minutes again,” Bell told AAP.

    “I don't want to let the boys down so if I don't think I can last the 80 minutes then I won't play.

    “I had a run Monday and it went well. I will train today and if that goes alright I will definitely be right for the weekend.

    “I'm thinking I'm about 85 per cent at the moment.”

    The ongoing concern over Bell is mirrored down in Cronulla where skipper Paul Gallen remains in doubt to play in Friday's preliminary final with Melbourne.

    Gallen has not trained since the Sharks beat Canberra two weeks ago but club officials are hopeful he will overcome his corked thigh for Thursday’s final training session.

    It was fortuitous that both Manly and Cronulla had last week off as injuries or illness would have prevented several players from turning out in semi-finals.

    The potential loss of Bell and Gallen for the grand final deciders would be massive blows to Manly and Cronulla as they face two clubs who are well and truly battle-hardened.

    Manly's opponents, the Warriors, have won 10 of their past 12 games to reach the final four with at least their last four games all do-or-die battles.

    The Sea Eagles, meanwhile, have coasted to this point after an easy 38-6 win over the Dragons two weeks ago.

    “We've had a couple of really good days on the training paddock but that's never the same as a game,” said Manly five-eighth Jamie Lyon.

    “We would like to think we are (battle hardened).

    “Semi-finals is about completions. We have to get through our tackles and get the ball down the other end. That is pretty much our game plan.”

    Manly coach Des Hasler insisted his side were in no better position than the Warriors to win, declaring the game nothing more than a 50-50 contest.

    “It is very, very even ground come Saturday night,” said Hasler.

    “They've been going very well the last two weeks. They have plenty of good momentum and are playing with plenty of energy mixed with emotion.”

    But after making last year's grand final, Hasler wouldn't buy into talk that anything less than reaching this year's decider would be a failure.

    “That's something we have to control ourselves,” he said.

    “There is a real opportunity there to make the grand final and we just have to make the most of it.

    “We have to turn up and make things go right on the night.”

  7. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Price seeking finals redemption

    September 24, 2008


    WARRIORS captain Steve Price has 300 reasons and four years of heartache as extra motivation for Saturday's NRL preliminary final against Manly.

    The Test and Queensland prop will play his 299th NRL game on Saturday night at the Sydney Football Stadium, where victory will ensure he gets to play his milestone 300th match in next week's grand final.

    In doing so Price would become the 11th player in 100 years of league history to reach the milestone.

    Furthermore, victory would give Price a chance to erase part of the pain of missing the Bulldogs' 2004 premiership win with a knee injury.

    The then Bulldogs skipper had to sit on the sidelines with torn medial ligaments as his teammates claimed premiership glory but four years later he insists the heartache of missing the decider is not weighing on his mind.

    "You can never go back and get that game. So just because you play a game this year, or in 10 years' time, or whatever it is, it doesn't make too much of a difference," said Price.

    "You look for every opportunity. That is why we train hard and play hard, to try and get to that day. I am no different this year just because I missed out in 2004."

    A crowd of 32,611 attended Manly's preliminary final win over North Queensland at the SFS last year but, with a strong Kiwi presence in Sydney, officials expect that figure to be eclipsed on Saturday.

    Price believes the Warriors, with a handful of Australians in their side, will be well supported this weekend.

    "Hopefully there will be plenty of New Zealand Warriors supporters. They don't necessarily have to be Kiwis. But certainly hopefully there will be a lot of New Zealand Warriors supporters," he said.

    "We have had great support in Australia and it really excites the boys to be able to go over to Australia and get so much support."

  8. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Orford fearful of McKinnon return

        September 24, 2008

    MANLY skipper Matt Orford wasted little time in pinpointing Warriors full-back Wade McKinnon as his side's biggest danger in Saturday night's NRL preliminary final.
    And Orford knows he'll need to show similar accuracy with his boot if the Sea Eagles are to keep the livewire No.1 in check.

    A three-game suspension for spitting at a touch judge has left McKinnon a frustrated spectator so far this finals series.

    But coach Ivan Cleary showed no hesitation in rushing him straight back into the starting line-up at the expense of in-form fill-in Lance Hohaia.

    Like Cleary, Orford thought McKinnon's selection was a no-brainer.

    “You definitely had to pick him. He's a class player,” Orford said.

    “He showed coming off a knee reconstruction, he had a input straight away and he's a player who's probably the first picked in your team.

    “He's always sniffing around, he knows where to be at the right time and he's very dangerous at the back there.”

    There's no need to delve too far into the statistical abyss to find the true worth of McKinnon's abilities.

    Despite almost six months on the sideline as he rehabilitated his surgically repaired knee, McKinnon hardly missed a beat on his return in early August.

    In his first game back, he ran for 185 metres against Brisbane, while the 148 metres he averaged in the four games he played was good for sixth best in the NRL over the regular season.

    “He is a threat, that is for sure,” Cleary said.

    “He is the sort of guy who, similar to Brett Stewart at Manly, that they turn half chances into chances.”

    Centre Brent Tate claimed the addition of McKinnon would not only boost his side's kick-return, but also give the team an overall lift.

    “He will bring a lot more confidence and hopefully three weeks' off hasn't affected him and I don't think it will,” Tate said.

    “We all saw the way he came back after that six-month layoff.”

    Add the power of man-mountain Manu Vatuvei on one wing and the speed an agility of Aiden Kirk on the other, and Orford knows his kicking game will have to be up the scratch on Saturday night.

    But the Dally M medallist denied it would all come down to him.

    “We need to have a good kick chase,” he said.

    “If our middle men do a great job and give us time we've got plenty of potions there to do the kicking - obviously Jamie Lyon's back now so he takes a bit of pressure of myself and we've got two nines that can kick also.

    “We'll do a bit of work this week and come up with a plan.”

    The Sea Eagles went into lockdown Wednesday afternoon after their holding their one and only open training session of the week at Narrabeen.

    Centre Steve Bell trained with the side but remains in doubt with a calf injury.
    Bell said he would give himself up until just before the game to prove his fitness.

  9. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Warriors wary of Eagles' experience

        September 24, 2008


    WARRIORS coach Ivan Cleary claims the experience of last year's NRL finals series will ensure Manly are ready to go at the opening whistle on Saturday night.

    Cleary brushed off suggestions the Sea Eagles would vulnerable in the preliminary final's early exchanges after enjoying the weekend off courtesy of their big win over St George Illawarra in the opening week of the play-offs.

    It's in stark contrast to the two bruising encounters the Warriors have had to put their bodies through just to get to the grand final qualifier, plus the trips back and forth across the Tasman the players have endured.

    “(Manly) did the same thing last year, so I am sure they have had a bit of experience of what to do in terms of their preparation over two weeks,'' Cleary said.

    “I expect them to be absolutely ready.

    “Having said that, our self-belief is building and momentum is behind us a little bit.''

    Sea Eagles back-rower Glenn Stewart denied the break had disrupted his side's momentum, claiming the week off had refreshed the squad.

    Asked about the Warriors building momentum over the finals series, Stewart said the Eagles had gathered theirs over the course of the regular season, a run which includes 12 wins from their last 15 matches.

    “I would definitely say we've got the advantage having had the week off,'' Stewart said.

    “It's better than going out and bashing yourself up for 80 minutes where we didn't have to.''

    Coming into last week's semi-final against the Sydney Roosters, Cleary emphasised the need for a fast start.

    He didn't get it as the Roosters ran up a 13-6 half-time lead before the Warriors stormed home to win 30-13.

    Against Melbourne in week one of the finals, the Warriors also left it late before becoming the first eighth-placed team to beat a minor premier.

    But the two comebacks haven't changed Cleary's tune.

    “Both coaches understand the need to start well,'' he said.

    “It is always important to start well. It doesn't mean everything but it certainly makes things a bit easier, so I think there will be a lot of intensity in the game and the early exchanges will be pretty fierce.

    “It's what finals football is all about.

    “I think you have seen in the last few weeks in all the games just the ferocity and intensity is really up a notch, so I am sure it won't be any different this week.''

    The Warriors fly into Sydney Thursday with a clean bill of health and will hold their final training run at the Sydney Football Stadium on Friday morning.

  10. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Sea Eagles v Warriors Preview
    Sydney Football Stadium
    Saturday 7.45pm

    TWO sides with incredible momentum square off in the second qualifying final for this year’s premiership decider – but despite the Warriors’ blistering displays over the past fortnight the Sea Eagles will start warm favourites to win.

    TAB Sportsbet is quoting the Sydney-based side at $1.36 and the Kiwi outfit at $3; that will be music to the ears of Warriors’ coach Ivan Cleary who has seen his side win 10 of their past 12 games, most of them as underdogs.

    From eighth place they’ve already felled the number one and number four sides and the news for them just keeps getting better – this week they get major strike weapon Wade McKinnon back from suspension, which has afforded them the “luxury” of benching the devastating Lance Hohaia who was easily their best player in their defeat of the Roosters last week.


    The Warriors have none.

    Zilch. Now that’s almost unheard of at a rugby league club at this stage of the season…

    Cleary has named a six-man bench, with Grant Rovelli in jersey 20 and Epalahame Lauaki in 20.

    Meanwhile the Sea Eagles have had a refreshing week’s break since their demolition of the Dragons in Finals Week 1.

    Likewise they have all troops on deck. They’ve named a five-man bench, with Adam Cuthbertson (jersey 21) likely to be the omission.

    Steve Menzies will be hoping he can get across the try line again here – he needs just one more four-pointer to make it 150 in the maroon-and-white.

    Watch out Sea Eagles: Manu Vatuvei remains in devastating form on the left wing for the Warriors and it’s no surprise they’ve scored 50 of their 96 tries on that side, compared to just 24 on the right.

    Marking him for the Manly side will be rookie David Williams, who himself has been in good attacking form but who has been a little shaky defensively.

    So far Williams is missing 42 per cent of his tackle attempts – given Vatuvei ranks 11th in the comp for tackle breaks with 105 (from an injury-shortened season) Manly coach Des Hasler will have been drumming into his troops the importance of getting to Vatuvei in numbers.

    Watch out Warriors: The Kiwis’ left-edge defence needs to be watertight here or it will spring a leak at the hands of one of the Sea Eagles’ favourite plays – a second-man shift wide to their right from a play-the-ball inside the 10-metre zone near the posts, or else a decoy shift where Matt Orford, Jamie Lyon or Glenn Stewart will pop a short flat ball to the likes of Anthony Watmough who’ll be hitting the line at speed.

    The Warriors are particularly vulnerable on their left edge – they’ve conceded 49 tries down that corridor compared to just 32 on the other flank.

    Look also for deft kicks behind the likes of Vatuvei; he’s fast, but as a big man he finds it difficult to turn and chase.

    Where it will be won: Defence.

    There’s no doubt this will be a fast and open game with plenty of points in it – the Sea Eagles have scored more tries than any other team this year (125) while the Warriors’ 96 four-pointers ranks them fifth in the comp.

    That makes it all the more likely that the winner will be the team who manages to match defensive grunt with their abundant flair in attack.

    The worry for the Warriors is the Sea Eagles appear to be pretty solid across the park defensively – their 64 tries conceded is broken down into 25 on their left edge, 15 in centre-field and 24 on the right.

    So to get across the line the Warriors will need to mix up their attacking plays; it’s unlikely they’ll get too much joy in any one area. 

    The History: Played 15; Sea Eagles 9, Warriors 6.

    The Sea Eagles have won six of the past eight games, including two wins this year.

    In round 3 at Brookvale Oval they blasted the Warriors 52-6 to register their biggest ever win over the Kiwis.

    Conclusion: Without a serious hit-out over the past month – they thrashed the Wests Tigers, Titans, Panthers and then the Dragons – Manly will be thankful they’re not coming up against the battle-hardened Storm or the Sharks in their quest to go one better this year.

    The Warriors are on a roll but the Sea Eagles will feel a lot more comfortable trying to thwart their open, offloading style of play than they would had they squared up against an in-your-face team.

    Ditto Matt Orford, who needs space and time to play to his best.

    But that easy month still presents a worry for the Manly side – they need to roll up their sleeves and take it to the Warriors early – look for props Brent Kite and Josh Perry to lay a frantic platform in the opening 20 minutes.

    It will be interesting to see how McKinnon slots back into a side that arguably fired on an extra cylinder in his absence.

    And while it would appear to be more of a “home” game for Manly than the Warriors, the Northern Beaches boys have worryingly only won one of their past seven finals games away from Brookvale Oval.

    But we’ll lean towards Manly: their grand final loss last year will still be burning inside them and they will all know they are just 80 minutes from another tilt and a chance to balance the ledger.

    Match officials: Referee – Shayne Hayne; Sideline Officials – Paul Holland & Matt Cecchin; Video refs – Steve Clark & Phil Cooley.

    Televised: Channel Nine – Live from 7.30pm; Fox Sports 2 – Delayed from 10.30pm.
  11. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Vote of confidence

    25 Sep 08 @ 05:57pm by JASON AVEDISSIAN

    MANLY premiership winners are united in their belief the Sea Eagles not only deserve NRL favouritism, but are better equipped this year to go one better.

    Manly have shot to premiership favourites following Storm captain Cameron Smith’s two-match ban.

    But with or without the controversial hooker, it appears the Sea Eagles are brewing their own storm as they aim for their first title in 12 years.

    Members of that last squad are united, believing the Sea Eagles outstanding recent form having won 12 of their past 15 outings will ensure they will make up for their grand final defeat last year.

    “If they keep playing the way they are playing, I see no reason why they can’t win it,” club great Cliff Lyons said on Thursday evening.

    “As long as they don’t shut up shop.

    “Their defence is great and their attack is getting better.

    “Melbourne are still going to be hard to beat, but Manly need to beat the Warriors before they start worrying about next week.”

    Another member of the 1996 squad, prop Mark Carroll, said the time is right for the Sea Eagles to make up for last year’s devastating loss to Melbourne.

    “Everything is falling into place for them,” he said.

    “You have to be in one to win one and with another year under their belt, they will be better for the experience of last year.

    “But, they’ve got to beat the Warriors first.”

    Premiership-winning winger Craig Hancock said Manly deserve favouritism.

    “This time last year it had to be Melbourne, but now, Manly deserve to be favourites,” he said.

    “They have their best chance this year to win with or without Smith playing. When we lost the grand final in ‘95, we were heaps better off the year after.”

    “They won’t be over-awed.”


    Pushing the boundary

    24 Sep 08 @ 11:51pm by JASON AVEDISSIAN


    MANLY second-rower Anthony Watmough is “happy” to continue giving away penalties to ensure the Sea Eagles qualify for successive grand finals.

    NRL statistics reveal Watmough is the most penalised player in the game.

    The rampaging forward has conceded 25 penalties from 20 appearances, one ahead of the Gold Coast’s Anthony Laffranchi (24) and the Cowboys’ Luke O’Donnell (23).

    Watmough admitted to The Manly Daily on Wednesday his passion to lift his teammates often means pushing the limits.

    “Everyone loves pushing the boundaries and stupid me probably pushes them more than most,” he said.

    “It’s just a bit of passion, trying to hold boys down and get the best advantage for us.

    “You don’t want to be the most penalised player, you definitely want to stop giving penalties away.

    “But I’m not going to go out there and change my game just because I give away a couple of penalties.

    “My game is about working for the team and I’ll leave it how it is. I’m happy to give a couple of penalties away to lift us up.”

    A trick which seems to be working.

    The Narrabeen junior is a vital member of Manly’s impressive pack as they aim to topple the Warriors in Saturday’s grand final qualifier at the Sydney Football Stadium.

    With powerful front-rowers Brent Kite and Josh Perry creating a strong foundation, the likes of Watmough and Glenn Stewart cash in.

    “I think our two front-rowers have been the best two front-rowers all year,” Watmough said of his buddies.

    “I don’t think there are two better props in the game then our two. I think their form warrants it (Australian selection).”

    And if Manly can maintain their drive towards grand-final redemption, the frontrowers won’t be the only Sea Eagles playing in the season-ending World Cup.
  12. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Cuthbo bides his time in Cup squad

    25 Sep 08 @ 04:53pm by JASON AVEDISSIAN

    ADAM Cuthberson is not paid to sit around and feel sorry for himself.

    Nothing has ever been gained from hours of self-pity.

    With Manly coach Des Hasler opting for the enterprise of Heath L’Estrange off the bench, Cuthbertson’s NRL season has been a little inactive in recent weeks.

    Deep down it hurts the Avalon junior, but he’s not about to sag his shoulders and start kicking stones.

    “Not being in the team is tough,” Cuthbertson said this week.

    “I am (concerned) and I’d rather be out there playing than on the bench and watching the boys.

    “It’s taught me a lot the last couple of weeks.

    “I’ve got back in the gym, am training hard and getting fitter and when the time does come I’ll be ready to explode and give it all my best and show that I’m meant to be out there.”

    Which is all he can really do.

    Cuthbertson can play.

    The 23-year-old knows how to challenge defenders, often splitting their thoughts on how to best stop him.

    There were even calls during the season for the enterprising backrower to be called into the Blues Origin squad.

    But he can also push passes that are not always on, earning the ire of the coaching staff.

    “I haven’t been too harsh on myself and I don’t think I’ve been playing that bad,” Cuthbertson said of his form.

    “It’s just the way it goes.

    “Who knows what will happen this week.

    “I could get picked.

    “I’m feeling fit, feeling better than ever.

    “I’m thinking positively, thinking that I’m going to be there.

    “I want to get out there and prove myself.”

    Prove he deserves a shot at a premiership ring.

    Cuthbertson played 60 minutes in Manly’s NSW Cup victory last weekend and is part of a five-man bench ahead of Saturday night’s grand final qualifier against the Warriors at the Sydney Football Stadium.
  13. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14

    Kite goes head on with boyhood hero

    24 Sep 08 @ 06:02pm by JASON AVEDISSIAN

    HE grew up idolising a former Canberra legend, but on Saturday night will aim to knockdown a Warriors’ champion.

    Manly prop Brent Kite grew up in Queanbeyan admiring ex-Raiders centre Ruben Wiki.

    The current Warriors’ enforcer started his career in the Australian capital in 1993, before Kite had hit his teens as an equally promising Canberra junior. But now the pair will come together on Saturday night in a clash which will go a long way towards settling the preliminary final at the Sydney Football Stadium.

    “I was (eight) years younger than him and I remember saying ‘hi’ to him down at the shops and he was always polite,” Kite recalled of a nervous shopping mall encounter in Canberra on Wednesday.

    “He’d say ‘hi’ back and you and your mates would have a giggle that Rubes had said g’day. That’s what I remember about him.

    “Even though he’s one of the hard men of the game, he’s always got time for everyone and is a pretty polite sort of fella. He was one of my favourites. I’m a bit of fan of his.

    “I used to like the way he played, the big hits coming out of the centres.

    “It’s good to see he’s going out on a good note.”

    But Kite has no intention for Wiki to go out on top when the two packs collide on Saturday night.

    “Getting bailed out in the semi-final wasn’t a goal of ours ... we want to be there on the last day,” the Australian prop said.

    “Rubes is running like he’s a young man again.

    “Steve Price is doing a good job and they’ve got a couple of young forwards that are ripping it in. The size and the physicality they play with is pretty intimidating but we won’t be taking a backward step.

    “We’re playing for a spot in the GF and we feel like we’ve played well enough all year to be in that GF.”

    A hope coach Des Hasler wants to turn to reality with a win on Saturday night.

    “There’s a real opportunity there to make the grand final, we just need to make the most of it,” he said.
  14. Jethro

    Jethro This space is for rent Staff Member Premium Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +2,307 /13
    Geez, I hope we don't play as bad tomorrow as the Sharks are playing tonight after the week off. They're bloody terrible. Drop ball, drop ball, drop ball, drop ball, drop ball, drop ball.
  15. Central Coast Eagle

    Central Coast Eagle Active Member

    +108 /2
    I don't think it's the week off, i think they just choked.
  16. WesternEagle

    WesternEagle New Member

    +0 /0
    Composure and aggression in defense. Patience in attack. No errors, no silly penalties, the bread and butter stuff will win us this one. God I'm nervous, imagine how the players must feel.
  17. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Matai ready to rumble despite pain

    September 26, 2008 - 5:18PM

    Manly centre Steve Matai has been playing with a busted shoulder for several weeks but won't use the injury as an excuse for his own self-rated "average" form.

    The damaging Sea Eagles centre believes his defence has been lacking its usual venom recently but in a major warning to the New Zealand Warriors he wants to make amends in Saturday's NRL preliminary final at the Sydney Football Stadium.

    "(My form) has been pretty average but just as a team it's been pretty good," Matai told AAP.

    "(I need to) just probably tighten up on my defence. I think my defence has been pretty sloppy the last few weeks and I'm hoping to rectify that this weekend."

    But his opponent Saturday, Warriors centre Brent Tate, thinks the total opposite of Matai's form in 2008.

    He believes Matai has added variety to his attack this year and is more dangerous as a result.

    "I have got a hell of a lot of respect for him. He is such a tough competitor and he doesn't do anything by halves," said Tate.

    "He is probably one of the most physical centres you will play against.

    "He has brought a lot more to his game this year with his footwork, and he is starting to score a lot of tries throughout the year, with his footwork and his speed."

    The problem for 24-year-old Matai however has been while he is playing well he is doing so in pain.

    His shoulder continues to play up and although he has physically overcome the neck injury which threatened his career last year, the mental scars remain.

    "I definitely think I've been pretty lucky. The medical staff here have been good for me, they've looked after me and given me good advice," he said.

    "Whenever they think I'm not fit to play they won't put me on and have looked after my neck well.

    "You know once you've hurt it you don't want to do it again and you go into a tackle and sort of don't go in as hard.

    "I've taken a lot of positives from the doctor who keeps telling me it is good.

    "(There are) just some small niggly things that keep re occurring.

    "I'm just looking forward to a break and hopefully I can get these injuries fixed.

    "The neck is starting to come good hey, but my shoulder has been playing up a little bit."

    With just two weeks left Matai says he no longer has to preserve his body and can unleash himself for the rest of the year.

    But he will choose his victims wisely.

    He didn't watch the Warriors win last week but has seen the damage his Kiwi Test teammate Ruben Wiki did to Roosters centre Sia Soliola.

    Wiki knocked Soliola out with a brutal hit up and Matai, one of league's toughest defenders, is cautious about tackling his childhood idol.

    "I've seen Sia come off second best against Ruben and I was like, 'Oh sh*t I hope he doesn't run at me'," said Matai.

    "I would be getting out of the way if he was running at me."

    © 2008 AAP
  18. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Bozo's has good vibes: 'Manly are more ready this year'

    Greg Prichard | September 27, 2008

    BOB FULTON, the man who coached Manly to their last two premierships, is convinced the Sea Eagles are ready to take this year's title - mainly because no one at the club is thinking beyond this weekend.

    "I haven't seen or heard one mention of the grand final from Des [Hasler, the Manly coach] or any of his players," Fulton said yesterday. "It's clear no one is getting ahead of themselves, and that's the way you've got to be. It's all about [tonight] and getting over that hurdle."

    That hurdle is the grand-final qualifier against the Warriors at the Sydney Football Stadium, and the Sea Eagles will be going in with their strongest team after centre Steve Bell was cleared to play yesterday. Bell had been battling a calf-muscle injury suffered in the warm-up to Manly's last game, against St George Illawarra in the first week of the finals. He started that match, but had to be replaced after only two minutes.

    "Steve's fine," Hasler said yesterday. "He got through a full training session yesterday, and has pulled up OK today. He's playing."

    Hasler still has to cut one player from a five-man bench. He has already decided who that will be, but wasn't prepared to say. It appears unlikely, though, that he will change the team that beat the Dragons 38-6, meaning second-rower Adam Cuthbertson will probably miss out again.

    Fulton, who coached Manly to titles in 1987 and 1996, retains a close connection to the club and he coached Hasler and Hasler's assistant, Geoff Toovey. The club's football manager while Fulton was in charge - Steve Gigg - is still in that position. Fulton said he was getting "good vibes" from the club about the progress of the premiership campaign.

    "I like what I see on the field, and I like what I'm hearing off it," he said. "There's no doubt Manly are more ready this year than they were last year. There is a really good feeling in the joint. Des has done a really good job in relation to the preparation, and the players are more hardened than they were last year. That comes from having to deal with the disappointment of a grand final loss.

    "The players got through the early part of this year and then steeled themselves for the challenge. They are better as a unit than they were last year and there are some brilliant individuals there who are naturally better off with another year under their belts. Everyone is better prepared - not just the players and coaches, but the support staff as well, and that's important, too. Everyone is better equipped to handle the whole thing."

    Hasler, when asked how tonight's game would be decided, replied simply: "Field position." Even though Manly ran away in the end against the Dragons, Hasler made a point after that game of saying the Sea Eagles could not afford a repeat of the early turnovers that delayed them getting on top in that game.

    "The start of [tonight's] game is going to be critical, for both teams," he said. "If the Warriors get any sort of sniff, they're dangerous. We were guilty of a few errors against the Dragons. The aim is no unforced errors in this one."

    Manly halfback Matt Orford's kicking game will also be critical. Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon was in brilliant form being before suspended, and he is back for this game.

    The Sea Eagles are likely to kick towards winger Aidan Kirk to avoid having to deal with returns from McKinnon and the Warriors' other winger, Manu Vatuvei.
  19. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Three control fate of Manly, NZ

    September 26, 2008

    At the start of the year few gave them a chance, but now three unknown hookers hold the NRL destiny of Manly and the New Zealand Warriors in their crafty hands.

    Forget Melbourne's Test hooker Cameron Smith and his season-ending suspension - Ian Henderson, Matt Ballin and Heath L'Estrange are now the men who will decide who wins the 2008 NRL premiership.

    Two rejects and a pretty boy.

    Warriors hooker Henderson and Manly interchange rake L'Estrange are both journeymen who were told they wouldn't cut it elsewhere but have found greener pastures with their current sides.

    And Sea Eagles No.9 Ballin was this week named the sexiest man in league.

    But there is nothing sexy about the way the trio play rugby league.

    They don't command the spotlight or the salaries of Smith, Danny Buderus and co, but they undoubtedly control the performance of their football team.

    Henderson had to fight for his place in the Warriors side but his rise to starting hooker has coincided with the club winning 10 of their past 12 games to reach Saturday's NRL preliminary final against Manly.

    He is in such fine form that his scheming runs from dummy half have made him the top hooker for metres gained and tackle breaks.

    Ballin and L'Estrange, meanwhile, have shed the shadow of former Manly captain Michael Monaghan by filling his role with their own brand of control and flair.

    Such is the importance of the trio's performances that both clubs have made it one of their key goals to shut the other out of Saturday's game.

    "Hendo is a great player. He is a bloody tough bastard and just runs hard," said L'Estrange.

    "He is probably a main focus point for us. He is getting those quick play-the-balls and making 15m every time he runs and we can't have that.

    "We have to wrap him up and not let him bump us off and get him on the ground and slow him up.

    "He had a lot of time (last week against the Sydney Roosters), especially down on their line. We will be trying to rectify that this weekend."

    Warriors coach Ivan Cleary senses as much danger in the Manly duo, noting Ballin's ability to control the tempo of the game and L'Estrange's injection of speed that can blow it apart.

    "Matt Ballin, he has had a really good season for them. He cleans up a lot of what they do. He defends well and he is very steady from dummy half," said Cleary.

    "And L'Estrange has been a real weapon for them coming off the bench, so they don't have any weaknesses in the team."

    It hasn't been easy for either Ballin or L'Estrange - replacing a club champion never is.

    Monaghan's exit to England prompted many critics to suggest Manly couldn't even threaten for the title without the lively former halfback.

    But Ballin and L'Estrange have formed a dynamic partnership that gives Manly attacking drive for the full 80 minutes, particularly when the man they call 'Stranger' comes on in the last 25 minutes.

    Former Rooster L'Estrange admits he feared being "made the reason why they didn't win this year" when he first crossed the Harbour Bridge, but now he is happy with the way he and Ballin have performed.

    "I just come on and try to get a bit of an injection and lift the boys a little bit and try and bring them home with a bit of steam," said L'Estrange.

    "Mick (Monaghan) was a great player and he went off to England and there was a lot of pressure put on Matty and I to become the one hooker to take over, but we've joined together and are playing good footy and hopefully nothing can stop us from here."
    © 2008 AAP
  20. ssar

    ssar Well-Known Member

    +220 /4
    Kickoff (Sea Eagles v Warriors at SFS, Sydney) in about 2 hours!


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