Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

NRL: Warriors go for safety in numbers

James Maloney said a decision on his involvement would be made on the morning of the game but he was hopeful. Photo / Getty Images.
James Maloney said a decision on his involvement would be made on the morning of the game but he was hopeful. Photo / Getty Images.

It's not quite siege mentality time yet for the Warriors but it's not far away, and they are going for safety in numbers for what will be a challenging assignment in Townsville against the Cowboys on Saturday.

The Warriors, who left Auckland for Brisbane this afternoon and plan to take a connecting flight to Townsville tomorrow, head into the match following a 45-4 drubbing at the hands of the Cronulla Sharks at Mt Smart. And that after giving away 18-point leads to lose to both Manly and Newcastle in the preceding two weeks.

Travelling with the squad to Townsville, a tough place to visit at the best of times, are injured captain Simon Mannering and fellow casualties Sam Rapira, Jerome Ropati and James Maloney.

It is understood that five-eighth Maloney is the best chance to play, but a strained knee last weekend against the Sharks puts him in doubt.

The door has also been left open for Mannering, but Rapira and Ropati are no chance and are travelling to bolster a side not only short on results but also confidence, despite the fact that it is rare for injured players to travel, due to the added expense.

Maloney said a decision on his involvement would be made on the morning of the game but he was hopeful. "I had a run on it earlier in the week and it's a bit stiff now but we'll just have to see.

"As it turns out, the scans show it's only been strained, it hasn't been torn. It's probably the best-case scenario, it could be a lot worse."

If Maloney does not play, Carlos Tuimavave, his replacement against the Sharks, will get the nod, with yet more responsibility falling on Shaun Johnson's young shoulders.

"They've played a lot of football together and it would be good to see Shauny step up and take control of the side," Maloney said.

Reflecting on the Sharks' defeat which has all but ended the Warriors' playoff ambitions - they are in 13th place and must win their four remaining games to have a chance of making the top eight - Maloney said: "Everyone's got their pride and self respect. Every week we run out you don't want to have a game like that. There's only one way to turn it around and silence everyone, and that's to get a win and play some good footy."

The Warriors have lost their last seven games at Dairy Farmers Stadium, and lying in wait are a Cowboys side featuring the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Matthew Bowen and former Warrior Brent Tate.

Warriors' forward Feleti Mateo said his side was aware of the challenge and maintained the players were in good spirits, adding that coach Brian McClennan had been calm in his assessment of the Warriors' recent form.

"To his credit he's been more constructive than anything," Mateo said. "He knows what we need to work on, and that's what he focuses on. Nowadays you don't really get much out of a revving up from the coach, and he knows that. We're grown men, we know what we did wrong and it's just about fixing it."

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 25 Apr 2014 02:05:40 Processing Time: 452ms