League: Luck remains confident as critics write off Warriors

By Steve Deane

The Warriors have shrugged off suggestions they won't be a factor in the NRL finals.

The New Zealand side were rubbished by Sharks coach Shane Flanagan and written off by captain Paul Gallen following Saturday's 37-10 victory, an article published today in Rugby League Week magazine reveals.

"I don't think they were good at all," Flanagan told the magazine.

"I didn't think they were that crash-hot ... the Warriors were there to get beaten but we were just average."

Gallen expanded on that theme in an internet column, writing off the Warriors as a playoff force.

"I don't think they can threaten," Gallen wrote on Australian website sportsnewsfirst. "If they think they played good, then I really don't think they can.

"I mean, if the Warriors get to the finals they've got potential. They're huge, strong men. If they put it together and those off-loads start coming off, they can beat anyone on their day.

"But I just think the structure and the good, smart playmakers like those of the Roosters and the Dragons, Brisbane, Penrith when they play well ...

I can't see them beating teams like that, realistically."

Warriors vice-captain Micheal Luck dismissed Gallen's opinion, pointing out the club has beaten both the Roosters and Panthers recently.

"Two of the teams he mentioned, we have beaten recently," Luck told the magazine.

"We played to a game plan on Saturday night and it mightn't have been good to watch. But 37 points is a pretty fair total to chalk up."

Luck said Sunday's opponents, Newcastle, were stronger in the middle than Cronulla and the Warriors might need to prove Gallen wrong at Mt Smart.

Former Shark Brett Seymour was surprised at Flanagan's comments.

"I thought we were pretty good because we didn't make any errors and we scored some points," said Seymour.

"I don't know whether it's hardball, if he's looking for something to pin on us, but we're happy with the way things are going."

Coach Ivan Cleary yesterday named an unchanged line-up to face the Knights. Discarded props Jesse Royal and Jeremy Latimore are expected to play for feeder club the Auckland Vulcans, however wing Kevin Locke could come into consideration if he proves he has recovered from a hamstring injury.

Fullback Lance Hohaia was the only injury concern following the Sharks game. Hohaia, who played with heavy strapping covering his corked thigh, received another blow to the injured area during the match but is expected to recover in time to face the Knights.

WARRIORS

Lance Hohaia
Bill Tupou
Brent Tate
Joel Moon
Manu Vatuvei
James Maloney
Brett Seymour
Ben Matulino
Ian Henderson
Russell Packer
S Mannering (c)
Lewis Brown
Micheal Luck

KNIGHTS

S McDonnell
Akuila Uate
Junior Sa'u
A MacDougall
Cooper Vuna
Jarrod Mullen
Kurt Gidley (c)
Ben Cross
Isaac De Gois
Antonio Kaufusi
Zeb Taia
Cameron Ciraldo
Matt Hilder

Warriors: Aaron Heremaia, Jacob Lillyman, Sam Rapira, Ukuma Ta'ai.

Knights: Wes Naiqama, Dan Tolar, Richie Fa'aoso, Mark Taufua, Joel Edwards (one to be omitted).

Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday

- NZ Herald

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