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Sea Eagles v Warriors
Brookvale Oval
Sunday 3pm

THE Sea Eagles return to Brookvale Oval for the first time since being crowned premiers hoping to put a terrible opening week behind them.

After being in the news all week in the lead-up for all of the wrong reasons, the reigning champions were humbled 34-12 by the Bulldogs, leaving them sitting in 15th position.

Their minds were obviously away from the job at hand and subsequently they were pummelled.

But a week is a long time in football and this Sunday marks a chance for Manly to get their title defence back on track.

Prop Josh Perry has been named to make his return from injury, which sees Jason King move back to the bench.

Coach Des Hasler has left five names on the reserves list at this stage.

The Warriors started their season on a high by defeating Parramatta 26-18 in New Zealand and will be hoping to continue their winning ways despite suffering some injuries.

Lance Hohaia’s injury has opened the door for the return of prodigal son Stacey Jones. Jones will start from the bench, giving the Warriors a pretty impressive attacking option to go to if needed.

Ben Matulino is also out injured, which means ex-Cowboy Jacob Lillyman will start in his place.

Leeson Ah Mau is also out which means the Warriors have a new-look bench with Jesse Royal, Ukuma Ta’ai and Aaron Heremaia added.

Watch out Sea Eagles: The Warriors’ forwards were the most prolific metre-eaters of the first round, with the side gaining a very impressive 1357 metres against the Eels. With this type of output the side has numerous chances to attack so the Sea Eagles need to try to limit the go-forward of the Kiwi-based side.

Manly only gained 1087 metres against the Bulldogs and let the ’Dogs gain 1349 metres. Should they let the Warriors dominate the field position, they could find it difficult to hold them out. With Jones waiting in the wings and Joel Moon and Nathan Fien in good form, the Sea Eagles’ defence needs to muscle-up.

Watch out Warriors: Manly halfback and captain Matt Orford had a quiet game last Saturday night, which means he is due a big one. The Dally M Medal winner from last year was one of many Sea Eagles with chips on their shoulders last start but Orford rarely plays two poor club games in a row.

Last week he failed to set up any tries or even try-scoring opportunities but this week things are sure to be different.

Orford did manage to kick astutely against the Bulldogs, finding space more than 80 per cent of the time, something he’ll need to do again to limit the Warriors’ go-forward.

Where it will be won: Attitude. The Manly side looked like a team full of petulant children against the Bulldogs. Sure the week had been hard but their mental toughness was almost non-existent. Their discipline was terrible and they claimed they were hard done by. If they come into this clash with the same negative mind processes they could find themselves on the end of another loss.

Conversely the Warriors always play well in Auckland but struggle across the Tasman. They need to have their minds on the job because if Manly is switched on they could potentially rip the Warriors apart.

The History: Played 16; Sea Eagles 10, Warriors 6. The Manly club has won five of the past six games against the Warriors, including the past three straight, which all happened last season. In the seven games between the clubs at Brookvale Oval the Warriors are actually in front with a 4-3 win/loss ratio.

Conclusion: If you discount last weekend Manly are still the team to beat in 2009 but it remains to be seen if they have screwed their heads back on. \

Their ‘world is against us’ attitude isn’t doing anything for them on the paddock but if they have worked out their problems they could be back in the swing of things in no time.

The Warriors look likely to be a contending unit this season, making this game a potential blockbuster.

There are arguments to tip both of these teams so spend some time contemplating and go with your instincts. Safer bet is the home side as they have had their tantrum and are likely to be ready to get back to reality.

Match officials: Referees – Shayne Hayne & Steve Lyons; Sideline Officials – Steve Chiddy & Jeff Younis; Video Ref – Chris Ward.

Televised: Channel 9 – delayed 4pm; Fox Sports – delayed 6pm.

* Statistics: NRL Stats.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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