NRL: Big Warriors win brings the wrong kind of relief

By Michael Brown

Russell Packer was initially unrepentant, but then tweeted an apology. Photo / Getty Images
Russell Packer was initially unrepentant, but then tweeted an apology. Photo / Getty Images

On Monday night the Warriors produced their best performance in nearly two years but you would hardly know it after Russell Packer's lack of control stole the narrative.

The Warriors are being talked about for all the wrong reasons after being fined A$15,000 ($18,114) by the NRL. Packer was caught by cameras urinating on Suncorp Stadium before the Warriors' commanding 56-18 defeat of the Broncos.

"This sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable and there is no excuse for it," said NRL general manager of football operations Nathan McGuirk.

Privately, the Warriors recognise Packer's actions were unacceptable but are upset at the severity of the fine. It would be a surprise to see them challenge the breach notice because it would be a public relations disaster.

Packer was initially unrepentant, tweeting after the match, "when u gotta go u gotta go".

He had softened his stance 12 hours later when he apologised for his actions through his Twitter account.

"Russell is deeply embarrassed and the club regret the incident occurred," Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said. "We will investigate it properly and respond to the NRL."

The reality is many players across many different codes relieve themselves when competing, from Packer's light relief earns ticking off and hefty fine

runners to cyclists, ironman athletes to cricketers and American footballers to rugby players. It's mostly done discreetly and fans aren't usually aware of it. It was hard to miss Packer's call of nature.

Packer had a strong game against the Broncos but he was not alone, with the Warriors doing to Brisbane what was done to them by Penrith a fortnight ago. The turnaround has been little short of remarkable and they will head into Sunday's home match against Manly full of confidence.

Predictably, coach Matt Elliott has named the same 17 who played against Brisbane to line up against the Sea Eagles as well as prop Suaia Matagi. Elliott is required by the NRL to name a team on a Tuesday so Todd Lowrie (ribs) and Pita Godinet (back) could come into calculations.

The Warriors will come up against a Manly outfit who have not only beaten them in every match since 2009 but also won 11 of the past 13 games between the two sides.

"They're exceptionally difficult opponents," Elliott said. "I'm confident we can test any side. What we need to do now, though, is to deliver that level of performance consistently over a long period of time."

Feleti Mateo continued his impressive form of the week before, Shaun Johnson was back to his creative best, Jacob Lillyman marked his 150th NRL game in style and Manu Vatuvei was a handful. Perhaps the pick of the bunch, however, was fullback Kevin Locke, who cleverly injected himself into the line and was rewarded with the game's final try.

Locke has faced criticism for not being involved enough but news of the likely arrival of England fullback Sam Tomkins next year seems to have sparked him into action.

The Warriors attacked relentlessly. They were so good, in fact, that Packer couldn't contain himself.

Team to play Manly at Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday (4pm): Kevin Locke, Glen Fisiiahi, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Russell Packer, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Dominique Peyroux, Suaia Matagi (one to be omitted).

- NZ Herald

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