Sea Eagles v Warriors: Trbojevic brothers in, RTS out, Johnson back for 150th
After blowing a good opportunity to make up some ground on the ladder by losing at home to an under-strength Cowboys last week, Manly have basically reached the now-or-never stage.
The Sea Eagles have a 4-9 record and the round 13 loss highlighted how they don't function very well without NSW reps Jake and Tom Trbojevic.
It's a 'home' game for Manly but they have taken the game to Christchurch and might find themselves surrounded by Warriors fans.
The New Zealanders will finally have halfback Shaun Johnson back and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck should be focused on footy again after the birth of his first child.
Thrashed by Souths in round 12, the Warriors are under pressure to bounce back with a performance befitting a top-eight team. Otherwise questions about staying power over the course of a season are bound to surface once again.
Key match-up: Tuivasa-Sheck had one of his quietest games of the year in the round 12 thrashing from the Rabbitohs, maybe because he was preoccupied with the impending birth of his daughter. He and his partner Ashley walker welcomed their first child into the world last Saturday and RTS will be looking forward to Saturday's battle with fellow fullback Tom Trbojevic, hoping to celebrate first-time fatherhood with a win.
For the Sea Eagles to win: The first thing Trent Barrett will probably do after Wednesday's Origin is contact the Trbojevic boys to make sure they will both be available for Manly's must-win game. The Sea Eagles should study video of what Melbourne and Souths did so well in their respective thrashings of the Warriors. Trent Hodkinson has to provide more than just goal-kicking and Daly Cherry-Evans needs to get his team believing in itself again.
For the Warriors to win: After giving up 30 points in the loss to the Bunnies, the Warriors need to get their defensive structure right and make sure they have the right attitude to match it. Johnson will be relishing his clash with Cherry-Evans and his return will ease some of Blake Green's workload. The Warriors love to offload but have to make sure they pick their spots.
Sea Eagles stat attack: This is the first meeting for 2018 between these two sides. Despite a tough season Manly can go in confident knowing they have won their last seven encounters against the Warriors.
Warriors stat attack: Halfback Shaun Johnson will make his 150th NRL appearance in front of a home crowd in Christchurch on Saturday. The 2014 Golden Boot winner debuted for the Warriors in round 13 of the 2011 season and will celebrate his milestone as a one-club player.
And another thing: Manly won the 2011 Telstra Premiership with a 24-10 defeat of the Warriors in the grand final. Scoring tries for the Sea Eagles that day were Brett and Glenn Stewart, Jamie Lyon and Cherry-Evans. Manu Vatuvei and Elijah Taylor crossed for the Warriors, while James Maloney converted just one of three shots with the boot. Glenn Stewart won the Clive Churchill Medal. The Warriors' only other grand final appearance was in 2002 when they lost 30-8 to the Roosters.
Match: Sea Eagles vs Warriors
Venue: AMI Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Manly Sea Eagles v New Zealand Warriors, Saturday 5pm (3pm AEST) at AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Jorge Taufua, 19 Bradley Parker, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Akuila Uate, 6 Trent Hodkinson, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 9 Apisai Koroisau, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Shaun Lane, 13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: 14 Matthew Wright, 14 Toafofoa Sipley, 16 Frank Winterstein, 17 Taniela Paseka
Manly have named Tom and Jake Trbojevic to back up from Origin. Moses Suli was replaced in the starting line-up by centre Brad Parker on Friday afternoon. Matt Wright drops to the bench and Shaun Lane shifts from lock to second row with Jack Gosiewski (broken arm/suspension) out. Tom Wright and Lloyd Perrett were game day omissions, while Lewis Brown was cut 24 hours before kick-off.
Warriors: 3 Peta Hiku, 2 David Fusitu'a, 18 Gerard Beale, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Blake Green, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 James Gavet, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Agnatius Paasi, 11 Isaiah Papali'i, 12 Tohu Harris, 13 Adam Blair
Interchange: 14 Karl Lawton, 15 Chris Satae, 16 Bunty Afoa, 17 Simon Mannering
Shaun Johnson has been named to make his long-awaited return from an ankle injury, but the Warriors have suffered a blow with fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck withdrawing on Friday afternoon. Peta Hiku shifts from centre to fullback and Gerard Beale comes into the starting side. Isaiah Papali'i returns in the second row with Simon Mannering moved to the bench and Jazz Tevaga out. Mason Lino and Sam Lisone were cut an hour before kick-off, while Liligiigo Sao got the chop on Friday afternoon.
Head-to-head: Played 31; Sea Eagles 23 wins, Warriors 8 wins
2017 results: Sea Eagles won 26-22 at nib Stadium in round 17; Sea Eagles won 22-21 at Mt Smart Stadium in round 25
Points per game: Sea Eagles 21.4; Warriors 19.3
Points conceded per game: Sea Eagles 22.9; Warriors 19.5
Televised: Live on Fox League
Steve Turner's prediction: The Sea Eagles will be hoping the Trbojevic brothers come through game one of the Sate of Origin series unscatthed. They certainly missed them last week in a very flat performance and it's a big game for DCE who would be disappointed with his performance last week. The Warriors are fresh off a bye and need a win to stay within the top four. They have only dropped one game away from home this year and I don't see it being defeat number two away from New Zealand.
Tip: Warriors by 6