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Burgeoning Warriors youngster Russell Packer has credited a mid-season dumping from the NRL squad for his recent form surge that has helped the side rocket into finals contention.<br><br>Dropped back to the Auckland Vulcans in the NSW Cup after an inconsistent start to the season, Packer has since hit top form in a Warriors side riding high on the back of four consecutive wins.<br><br>Speaking with ahead of Sunday’s crucial clash with Melbourne at Mt Smart Stadium, the 20-year-old, who made 12 hit-ups and 35 tackles in their brave win over the Panthers last week, said his brief demotion proved to be the wake-up call he needed.<br><br>“I didn’t start the year the way I wanted to – I was a bit up and down and was dropped to the Vulcans,” Packer said. “It was a good wake-up call. It re-focused me a little bit. <br><br>“I probably got a little bit comfortable in the squad and I wasn’t really treasuring my spot in the team the way I should be.<br><br>“I changed my preparation a little bit after that and it seems to be working for me. I’ve put a few good games back-to-back now but I’ve still got a lot to improve on and some growth to do as a player. <br>“As long as I keep improving each week and learn from each game I’ll be happy with that. <br><br>“I don’t look at things in too much depth – I just turn up each week and try to put in the effort.<br><br>“That’s what earns you respect from your team-mates – if you turn up each week and they know they can count on you.”<br><br>The absence of veteran prop Steve Price since the start of the season and an early injury crisis battered the Warriors’ confidence, but Packer said the adversity had proven to be a blessing in disguise.<br><br>While Price’s ongoing heel injury has since forced him to call it quits on his glittering career, the likes of Manu Vatuvei, Jerome Ropati and new captain Simon Mannering have all stepped up to fill his shoes in 2010.<br><br>“Things were a bit different when Simon started as captain,” Packer said. “It was a bit strange not having Pricey there and Simon is a very different sort of captain than what Pricey was, but I think his way is really working.<br><br>“The thing is that nobody wants to let each other down. They don’t want to go out there and put on a bad performance.<br><br>“We’re a young side but we’ve got a really good camaraderie at the club and we want to help one another.”<br><br>The Warriors welcome back four other players – Lance Hohaia, Brent Tate, Kevin Locke and Brett Seymour – from injury this week and can take a huge stride towards cementing a finals berth with a win over Melbourne.<br><br>The last time the two sides met, the Storm was still reeling from the salary cap revelations broken only days earlier and took their frustrations out with a 40-6 thrashing of the Kiwi side at Etihad Stadium.<br>But the Warriors head into this week’s clash a very different outfit following consecutive wins over Newcastle, Sydney Roosters, Parramatta and Penrith.<br><br>“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Packer said. “The Storm has been the benchmark for the past five years and despite what has happened to them they’ve still got their team in place.<br><br>“We’ve had a good month of footy but it’s going to be a tough game. The last time we played them they did a job on us. <br><br>“It’s good to be back home this time but I think it’s important that we fix a few things from last week’s game – hold onto the ball better and not put ourselves under so much pressure.<br><br>“If we can do that I give us a very good chance.”<br>
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