Perth hoodoo must be overcome for NZ club to be contender

If the Warriors want to be serious contenders in this year's NRL, they'll have to overcome two hoodoos on Saturday night against Manly in Western Australia.

Not only does the Auckland club have an awful record against the Sea Eagles - with just one victory in 11 encounters since 2009 - but they have also never won in Perth.

So facing Manly is the Western Australia capital isn't an ideal combination, but this year's Warriors team has to be different; if you want to make the NRL finals, and finish as high as possible, you can't afford to drop matches to clubs much lower than you on the ladder.

Still, the trip to Perth is a big undertaking, one that historically ends in misery for the Warriors.


Their first match there was a 32-12 loss to the Western Reds in 1996, one of only six wins the home side recorded that season. The following year the Warriors - despite having 11 internationals in their team - went down 24-12 to a modest Reds roster.

Then there was a 28-24 defeat to the Sharks in 2004, with a late Nigel Vagana try proving the difference before the latest sequence of four losses in the past four years. That included the infamous 24-22 defeat to Manly in 2012, after the Sea Eagles had trailed 22-6 with less than 25 minutes to play.

Psychologically the Warriors never recovered, and coach Brian McClennan was shown the door a few weeks later. Over the three seasons the Warriors have fallen to the Rabbitohs, though aside from last year they were competitive until the latter stages.

"We don't have a great record [in Perth] but we have played some good teams there," said returning wing Manu Vatuvei. "For us travel is part of the job, we just have to do it."

They haven't done that part well in 2016 - with two wins in six matches in Australia - but that equation needs to change soon. "It's just another challenge," said coach Andrew McFadden. "It's a long way to go but your opposition has to travel as well so it is not a factor for us. We will get over there, get the job done and get back."

McFadden also confirmed Tui Lolohea will be injected into the match at some stage, probably in the second half as defence tires. In a way, Lolohea has been a victim of his versatility and also the rise of David Fusitua and Ken Maumalo over the past month.

"We have a few options for Tui but he will be used," said McFadden. "It was a tough decision [to leave him out] and an unlucky one for him. He is still very important for our side and that is why he is on the bench."

Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei talks about coming back from injury.