NRL: Soul-searching gives Warriors focus

By David Skipwith

Thomas Leuluai blames a poor attitude and lack of commitment for the Warriors' thrashing by the Roosters last weekend. Photo / Dean Purcell
Thomas Leuluai blames a poor attitude and lack of commitment for the Warriors' thrashing by the Roosters last weekend. Photo / Dean Purcell

Veteran Warriors five-eighth Thomas Leuluai believes a week of soul searching has scotched any complacency before tomorrow's crucial match against the Gold Coast Titans.

Leuluai said a poor attitude and lack of commitment, rather than any flawed tactics or game plan, were key factors in last Sunday's thrashing by the Sydney Roosters.

Correcting those areas would go a long way to ensuring they produce an improved performance to help keep their finals hopes alive.

"It's been pretty hard this week, we've been doing a lot of video on ourselves and a lot of soul searching and looking at ourselves with a little bit of honesty and it's been a tough week," explained Leuluai.

"It is attitude more than any specific area. When you get dominated like that everything looks bad but it all starts with just being physically dominated by the other pack and out-enthused in different areas. We're not looking in too deep, we've obviously got to be thorough with it but there are some areas of the game we just weren't good enough in.

"Our contact and defence, especially in that second-half, was pretty much non-existent. Around those points a lot of things look really bad but on the flip side if you fix that you can fix a few things all in one."

While it was easy to blame poor mental application for one poor game, Leuluai was unable to explain the team's gradual decline over the preceding three matches against the Sharks, Raiders and Knights.

"That's something that a lot of people at the club are scratching their head at. Teams go through it and have slumps but us, we sort of fell off there and I think if we knew the answer I don't think we'd be in this situation, so it's something we just have to keep working on."

The 29-year-old was critical of his own performance and refused to accept his recent positional shifts had affected his ability to re-establish a firm combination with halfback Shaun Johnson. Since returning from a groin injury off the bench in their round 19 clash against the Broncos, circumstances dictated that he fill the No 7 jersey in three matches against Manly, Canberra and Cronulla, before moving into hooking role against Newcastle and standoff against the Roosters.

"It wasn't the best game on the weekend for myself but in saying that it was a tough day really, I suppose for any half, when your forward pack's getting dominated like that. I'm not looking at it too greatly but there are areas in my game where I know I need to improve."

Aside from the must-win scenario they now find themselves in, tomorrow's contest carries extra weight for the Warriors, with the club hosting its annual Old Boys' Day. Leuluai says it is essential the side produce an effort befitting such a special occasion and one their predecessors can be proud of. "Hopefully we can put in a good performance for them."

Putting away the Titans will be no easy task but Leuluai insists the Warriors need only worry about meeting their own expectations.

"They've got nothing to lose and can be pretty unpredictable so for us we've got a pretty narrow focus and just have to apply ourselves well."

- NZ Herald

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