Tigers ready to spoil Vatuvei party
The Wests Tigers are hoping to extend the Warriors inability to throw a good party when they take on the New Zealand outfit in Manu Vatuvei's 200th NRL game on Saturday night.
Brisbane stole the show when they upstaged the Auckland-based club 24-16 in their 20th-year anniversary match a fortnight ago.
And then the Warriors were smacked 30-14 in Ryan Hoffman's 250th-game milestone in Melbourne last week.
Now the Tigers are aiming to make it three bad bashes on the trot for a club desperate to get its season back on track. The Warriors had won two of their first three before conceding their past two matches.
"It is tough playing over there on a Saturday night. We've had a short turnaround, as have they, but it's not an easy task getting over to Auckland and trying to get up," veteran Dene Halatau said on Thursday.
"And big Manu playing his 200th, no doubt the rest of the team is going to be playing hard just for him.
"It gives them something else to play for. And especially someone like Manu, they respect greatly over there, in the team and also the rugby league community in New Zealand. So no doubt that'll spur them on to play better."
The sixth-placed Tigers are certainly wary of an in-form 'Beast', who has broken through 24 tackles over the opening five rounds and sidelined Storm fullback Billy Slater for the next month with a brutal hit last week.
"Yeah, we said to James [Tedesco], we'll make sure he doesn't get through so he won't have to make those one-on-one tackles where he does that step," Halatau said.
"He's a big guy and he carries the ball strongly, but there's a lot of those guys in the competition now, so you get used to tackling big strong wingers a lot now.
"The way he's been carrying the ball back – I think he ran straight through Parramatta a few times the other week – he's looking pretty good. So we'll have to be on our game in the middle and really tighten our 'D'."
Meanwhile, the plaudits continue to keep coming for evergreen winger Pat Richards, whose match-winning efforts against the Eels last week has earned him the nickname of 'Ice Man' from teammates this week.
"Even though Patty doesn't like the nickname, I think it's a pretty spot on nickname for him because he's very calm," Halatau said.
"He's very professional, he goes about his business at training. He ticks every box. And on the weekend in those clutch plays, he come up with the right plays. He hates it and we keep giving it to him, but it very much suits him."
Richards could be a darkhorse contender for NSW coach Laurie Daley, especially with incumbent left winger Brett Morris set to miss the entire Origin series.
"I'd be stoked for Patty if he got a call-up to Origin. It's a bit above me, I don't really know what [Daley] is thinking. But if he got a call up, the Ice Man nickname would definitely stick, wouldn't it?" Halatau said.