NRL: Warriors have long way to go - 5358km to face Souths in Perth

By Cameron McMillan

Manu Vatuvei is rated a 50-50 chance to make the trip to Perth after suffering a bruised shin against the Broncos. Photo / Dean Purcell
Manu Vatuvei is rated a 50-50 chance to make the trip to Perth after suffering a bruised shin against the Broncos. Photo / Dean Purcell

The Warriors have come a long way in the past six weeks, recording a fifth straight win on Sunday, but they need to cover some serious distance for their next encounter - 5358km to be exact.

The 10th-placed Warriors face one of the biggest away trips in world sport later this week when they travel to Perth to face the table-topping South Sydney Rabbitohs on Sunday.

Western Australia is not a happy hunting ground for the Warriors. They are winless through four attempts, the last being a 22-24 loss to Manly last season which saw them throw away a 16-point lead in the final 12 minutes.

Despite the poor record, coach Matt Elliott can't wait for the encounter between two of the competition's in-form teams.

"The competition ladder will probably suggest that it's the ultimate test for us. I don't want to get excited too early but I am really, really looking forward to it," he said following Sunday's 18-16 win over the Broncos.

Looking for any travel tips ahead of Perth, Elliott has sought the aid of the New Zealand Breakers whose most recent trip to Perth in April saw them claim a third straight NBL title.

"We have done a lot of planning behind the scenes and contacted [former Breakers coach] Andrej Lemanis who has obviously done the trip a few times and successfully so we have some really good advice on what to do there," Elliott said.

First on Elliott's list, though, is to tidy up areas of the game where the side were lacking last Sunday after escaping with a late win.

"I thought we were a little off. We looked like a team coming off the bye. Our execution wasn't great, but I am probably being too hard a marker in saying that because of the quality of the opposition and the amount of defence we had to do impacted on our attack. We are scrambling really well in defence but there are little things we need to do better. Us having high expectations of ourselves is a really healthy thing."

The Warriors defence will be tested against a Rabbitohs side which has topped 30 points in the last three weeks and features one of the game's most explosive players in Greg Inglis.

The Warriors carry a few injury concerns into Sunday's clash as they look to reach six straight wins for just the third time in franchise history.

The team's leading tryscorer Manu Vatuvei is rated a 50-50 chance to make the trip after suffering a bruised shin against the Broncos. The long flight on Friday won't help with the recovery.

Russell Packer, meanwhile, remains in doubt after he injured a hamstring in the side's final training last Saturday. His omission would be a big blow with the Rabbitohs fronting a big pack led by the Burgess brothers.

A win against the Rabbitohs, followed by their second bye a week later, could see the Warriors move to seventh.

- NZ Herald

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