NRL: Cleary and Elliott prepare to face former clubs

Warriors' coach Matt Elliott returns to the club that sent him packing midway through 2011 and Ivan Cleary will take on the side he led to the grand final in the same year. Photo / Getty Images.
Warriors' coach Matt Elliott returns to the club that sent him packing midway through 2011 and Ivan Cleary will take on the side he led to the grand final in the same year. Photo / Getty Images.

The Warriors and Panthers share a lot of things, not least of all the fact they are mentored by individuals who not so long ago sat in the opposition coach's box.

Warriors' coach Matt Elliott returns to the club that sent him packing midway through 2011 and Ivan Cleary will take on the side he led to the grand final in the same year.

Add to that the fact Lewis Brown and Isaac John were Warriors' players not so long ago, and Elijah Taylor will head there next season, and there are a number of interesting subplots.

Both sides are desperate to make some progress after wobbly starts to the season and the Warriors are battling confidence issues that have seen them give away handy leads in their last six games.

Penrith's confidence will have returned after picking up the prized scalp of Melbourne last weekend when they beat the defending champions 12-0.

Not long ago, they were a popular choice for the wooden spoon candidates but they are now only two points outside the top eight.

For their part, the Warriors might be 15th but they are only four points adrift of the top eight.

Cleary has named an unchanged lineup while the Warriors welcome back prop Sam Rapira, who is still battling a troublesome hand injury but is expected to play. Centre Dane Nielsen (ribs) was thought to be a chance but is said to be still a week away, as is fullback Kevin Locke (back).

Second-rower Feleti Mateo, who penned a new three-year deal yesterday, will play his 150th NRL game and 62 consecutive match - he hasn't missed one since joining the Warriors in 2011.

The Panthers have won 15 of the 30 matches between the two sides, with one draw, but the Warriors have won four of the past five. That looks quite good, but countering that is the fact they have lost their last eight matches in Australia.

Warriors side to play Penrith at Centrebet Stadium, Penrith, on Saturday (9.30pm NZT): Glen Fisiiahi, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Carlos Tuimavave, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Russell Packer, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Todd Lowrie. Interchange (one to be omitted): Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman, Elijah Taylor, Pita Godinet, Suaia Matagi.

Panthers: Matt Moylan, Travis Robinson, Lewis Brown, Dean Whare, David Simmons, Isaac John, Luke Walsh, Nigel Plum, Kevin Kingston (c), Tim Grant, Sika Manu, Matt Robinson, Adam Docker. Interchange: James Segeyaro, Sam Anderson, Mose Masoe, Clint Newton.

- APNZ

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