NRL: Vatuvei out for three weeks as SBW looms

By Kris Shannon

Manu Vatuvei. Photo / Getty Images
Manu Vatuvei. Photo / Getty Images

The Warriors have a week to recover from their disastrous start before facing Sonny Bill Williams' Roosters, but they will do so without the services of Manu Vatuvei.

The rampaging wing limped off early during Saturday night's big loss to Parramatta in Sydney, and the club yesterday confirmed he faces up to three weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

Vatuvei left the stadium on crutches and wearing a moon boot and, while the Warriors will be thankful the injury wasn't any more serious, the club's leading try-scorer is likely to be absent until round four.

Bill Tupou, a regular starter last year before losing his place to Glen Fisiiahi for the season opener, looms as the likely replacement for Saturday's clash with Sydney at Eden Park.

Already injury-hit, the Warriors have the work cut out for them if they are to bounce back from the heavy defeat to the Eels, the club's ninth straight loss dating back to last season.

With Vatuvei joining Nathan Friend, Russell Packer and Sam and Sione Lousi on the sidelines, it has hardly been an ideal start to new coach Matt Elliott's tenure.

"We were filthy," said hooker Elijah Taylor of the loss. "We didn't train that hard to have our first game like that. We were all disappointed."

The Warriors missed 36 tackles as Parramatta ran in seven tries, something Taylor attributed to miscommunication and poor technical choices.

"It's all about a defensive attitude and we all need to work hard on it," he said.

"We need to be more patient in our tackles. We were making tackles but we were putting them on the deck straight away.

"We need to use the time and slow it right down. Get two up top and the third person gets the legs and we'll get them down slowly."

Handling errors also proved costly against last year's wooden spooners, a side who, under new coach Ricky Stuart, look to have been transformed and played some excellent football.

After falling behind 18-0, Pita Godinet provided something of a spark when he came on and helped his side claw their way back into the game, but the Warriors were badly exposed in the final 20 minutes.

Their fitness continually came into question as they fell away in games last season, but Taylor denied that was an issue after a strenuous pre-season.

"We've forgotten about 2012 - that season's over and done with," he said. "It's early days and early season - round one."

- APNZ

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