David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: McFadden hoping positive attack will result in improved defence

The Beast is back - A smiling Manu Vatuvei during the Warriors press conference held at their base at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Beast is back - A smiling Manu Vatuvei during the Warriors press conference held at their base at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden hopes a more positive attacking approach will help improve the side's defence in Saturday's NRL clash against the Brisbane Broncos at Mt Smart Stadium.

McFadden admits his side is struggling for confidence after losing three of their past four matches, including consecutive losses to Penrith and Canberra.

Their defensive woes have been obvious, having leaked 21 tries and 120 points during that stretch, and their attack has also suffered with a lack of enterprise seeing them conjure only nine four-pointers in reply.

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The 14th-placed Warriors have the third worst defence in the NRL, and face a testing night against the third-ranked Broncos, who have the best attack in the game.

Halves Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai have struggled to create opportunities on the back of inconsistent performances from the side's forwards, and fifth tackle options have been largely ineffective and lacking in variety.

McFadden hopes his side can rediscover their attacking mojo against last year's grand finalists, and believes some spark with the ball in hand will make their job easier on defence.

"We need to play a little more positively," said McFadden.

"It feels like it's been a little bit restricted in what we're doing and that's certainly not our style.

"We still need to defend better but part of defending better is we also need to take a bit more juice out of the opposition by throwing a bit more at them."

But chancing their arm on attack brings greater risk, and 42 errors in the past four games have contributed to the Warriors downward spiral and seen them retreat further into their shells.

McFadden remains confident the side's game plan and attacking intent is not at fault, with much of their problems stemming from individuals committing basic errors.

Eliminating or at least reducing those mistakes will help their confidence grow and he hopes the results will follow.

"They're the fundamentals that have let us down there, not our style of play," he said. "So it's always a balance and that's something we strive for and when we get it right it works for us."

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The return of Manu Vatuvei to the left wing after a three-game absence will boost the side's confidence and McFadden says they have missed his charging runs that are crucial to gaining momentum and go-forward.

"When you lose players like Manu in a team, you really understand what you miss, and we've missed that raw aggression that he has.

"We've missed his sheer size and that raw aggression that he has when he carries the footy. And he gets a chance to go out and do what he does best now."

With recent setbacks behind him, a rejuvenated Vatuvei feels "like a little kid going back into the playground" ahead of his sixth NRL appearance of the year and only his second of the season at Mt Smart Stadium.

"I've just got to do my job. I'm just focused on getting back on the field, getting my first carry and getting the feel and hang of things again.

"My family is going to come so (I'm) pretty excited for them to see me get back on the field. I can't wait."

- NZ Herald

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