New-look Warriors hope to stop their slump
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden is hoping a shake-up of his side will help them escape the form slump which threatens to derail their finals hopes.
After back-to-back defeats to the Roosters (24-0) and Sea Eagles (32-12), McFadden swung the axe mid-week, dropping Jonathan Wright and Sione Lousi to a seven-man bench, and Glen Fisiiahi and Sam Rapira out of the squad all together.
The second-year Telstra Premiership coach has also made a couple of positional adjustments to try and fix his side's problems ahead of hosting the Sharks on Saturday night, moving captain Simon Mannering from lock to the back row and Ben Matulino from prop to second row.
The Matulino switch in particular has been met with joy by much of the Kiwi side's fanbase, with many believing the Kiwi international could be better utilised on the edge of park.
The 26-year-old was best known as a hard-hitting back-rower all through his Holden Cup and early NRL years, also appearing in the second row six times last year.
"Ben is probably one of the few guys left who has the edge back row experience, so he will obviously be a big threat out there," McFadden said.
"Hopefully he does add some impact out on the edge.
"He has obviously got a good skill set for it, he is a threat in the middle of the field so there's no reason he won't be out wide; he will probably be more of a threat out there.
"But what it does mean is those other guys in the middle will have to pick up the slack Ben leaves."
Aside from the personnel changes, McFadden said his side – who he admitted lacked enthusiasm in last week's loss to Manly – would need vast improvement in their approach if they were to beat a seasoned Cronulla outfit.
"They are a real gritty team, I think they are a tough side," McFadden said.
"They have got a lot of experience and some individuals in their side who can really hurt you.
"Obviously with the leadership of Paul Gallen and Michael Ennis, who is in terrific form, they are a real tricky side to play and it's going to be a tough encounter."
Warriors five-eighth Chad Townsend, who will link with the Sharks at the end of the season, said his side could learn something from the way Cronulla have won their last two matches.
"I have watched them the last couple of weeks and they have won some pretty tight games. They sort of grind their way to victories and that's what we need to do," Townsend said.
"The last two weeks we haven't done that at all, but previous weeks we were earning the right to play footy, grinding teams down and scoring some points towards the back end of games.
"That's what we will be looking to do this weekend."