History stacked against Warriors
The words "Manly in Perth" should be enough to send a shudder down the spine of anyone connected with the New Zealand Warriors this week.
Between the opponent and the venue, this is the Kiwi club's nightmare fixture, and the numbers paint a bleak picture for them ahead of Saturday night's clash against the fourth-placed Sea Eagles at nib Stadium.
Since 2004 the Warriors have beaten Manly just four times in 22 attempts and head into Round 17 on a five-game winless streak against the Sea Eagles.
It gets worse when you look at the club's record in Western Australia, with the Warriors losing all eight of their previous visits to Perth, which includes defeats to Manly last year and in 2012.
Coach Stephen Kearney was keen to distance himself from the unfavourable record, instead looking at the positives of the mammoth road trip, which will see the Warriors fly over 10,600kms and spend 15 hours in the air by the time they arrive back in Auckland.
"It's fine, it's what has been put in front of us. There's a fair few Kiwis over in Perth so it's a bit like playing at Mount Smart," Kearney said.
"We understand from Manly's point of view it's positive for them to get a good crowd there. It's not an issue on our part.
"It's no different [to any away trip] and our focus is purely on making sure that we prepare well and work on the areas we thought we weren't so good at on the weekend."
For prop Albert Vete, the key difference this weekend compared to previous trips is that much of the squad have recent experience playing in Perth, with nine of the Warriors' 17 having completed the trip last year for the match which Manly won 15-14 in golden point.
"The thing that stands out for me is that I just know what to expect now and know what I need to do with my body to get in the right frame to play," Vete told NRL.com.
"This time around a lot more of us have done the trip, so we all know what to expect now, whereas in the past it was all new for us.
"'Mooks' [Kearney] said at the start of the week 'let's have no excuses about our preparation', and there's no excuses for us, plus we have a rest next week with the bye."
The Sea Eagles v Warriors match kicks off at 3.30pm AWST, which is 5.30pm AEST and 7.30pm NZT.