NRL: Manly assignment gets even tougher

By Steve Deane

Simon Mannering has been ruled out with an ankle injury. Photo / Greg Bowker
Simon Mannering has been ruled out with an ankle injury. Photo / Greg Bowker

The task of beating bully boys Manly in Perth on Saturday has become even more daunting for the Warriors, with captain Simon Mannering ruled out with an ankle injury.

Mannering was hobbled late in Saturday night's capitulation to Newcastle and while scans yesterday ruled out the worst-case scenario - a high ankle sprain requiring multiple weeks of rehabilitation - Mannering will not be fit for the arduous trip.

His place goes to Sebastine Ikahihifo, a 21-year-old rated by coach Brian McClennan as being cut from the same sort of cloth as his injured skipper.

"He's as tough as they come is young Sebby," McClennan said. "When you talk about mental toughness, this kid has got it all the way.

"He will do hard yards when they are hard and he will work hard for the team and he will cover. He has got that Simon Mannering/Nathan Friend type toughness."

An injection of backbone into a side that wilted from 18-0 up to slump to a costly home defeat by the Knights will appear extremely welcome.

The Knights reverse has left the Warriors' playoff hopes dangling by an increasingly frayed thread. A win against the Sea Eagles would repair some of the damage, however Manly have long been a bogey side.

A 26-24 win at Brookvale in 2009 was the Warriors' lone success in the last nine clashes between the clubs.

Playing at a neutral venue should increase the Warriors' prospects, however the loss of Mannering still looms large.

Manu Vatuvei returns from a hamstring strain to take the captaincy for the first time, while Ben Henry shifts into the back row and Lewis Brown to centre in the reshuffle.

A five-man bench includes both Lousi brothers Sam and Sione as well as Jacob Lillyman and Ikahihifo. Pita Godinet appears the likely 18th man.

The Perth trip will be a smash and grab raid, with the Warriors flying in - a rare trip in business class to minimise the travel effects - and then hopping on the first available flight out to begin recovery at home ahead of the following Saturday's match against the Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.

"Our research over the years says it's best if we get in as late as we can and get out as early as we can," McClennan said. "We've got our backs against the wall here. We've got to go over there and perform well against Manly - a side that have bullied us over the years.

"We'll get good support in Perth. There are a lot of Kiwis there and it will be nice to play in front of them. We're not dead, but we need to break a bit of a hoodoo against Manly."

SEA EAGLES

Perth, 9.30pm Saturday

Dean Whare
Jorge Taufua
Jamie Lyon
Steve Matai
David Williams
Kieran Foran
Daly Cherry-Evans
Jason King
Matt Ballin
Brett Kite
A Watmough
Tony Williams
Glenn Stewart

Sea Eagles: Jamie Buhrer, Joe Galuvao, Darcy Lussick, George Rose, Vic Mauro, Daniel Harrison.

WARRIORS

Kevin Locke
Bill Tupou
Lewis Brown
Konrad Hurrell
Manu Vatuvei (c)
James Maloney
Shaun Johnson
Russell Packer
Nathan Friend
Ben Matulino
Feleti Mateo
Ben Henry
Elijah Taylor

Warriors: Sam Lousi, Sione Lousi, Jacob Lillyman, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Pita Godinet.

- NZ Herald

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