Ben Matulino likely to return against the Eels

DAVID LONG
Last updated 13:35 02/07/2014
Ben Matulino
Getty
FIGHTING FIT: Warriors forward Ben Matulino is expected to return from injury in time for his side's clash with the Eels on Saturday week.

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Warriors coach Andrew McFadden is hopeful Ben Matulino will be back for next weekend's game against the Eels at Mt Smart Stadium and that Thomas Leuluai and Sione Lousi won't be far behind him.

Matulino, one of the key players for the Warriors this season, has been out in recent weeks after undergoing a knee operation.

The surgery went well and McFadden says he should be back for in time for his side's crucial game against the Eels.

''We're pretty hopeful we'll get Ben Matulino after the bye,'' McFadden told Stuff. 

''The other ones who are looking very good at the moment are Sione Lousi (knee) and Thomas Leuluai (groin).

''I'm not sure whether they'll be right for Parramatta, but they're not very far away at all.''

Having a bye this weekend has allowed McFadden to take it easy with players who've had heavy workloads this season, while it's also given Leuluai the opportunity to train fully without having to build towards a game.

The five-eighth has been troubled with a groin problem since last year's World Cup. There have been numerous times when it looked like he was over the issue, only for him to suffer another problem.

''With that type of injury you always have setbacks, but he's building up pretty nicely and looking good at the moment,'' McFadden said.

''He's been building up his running now over the past month and he's not getting sore after training sessions, so we're very optimistic that we're through the worst of it. 

''But we are going to have to manage it right throughout the year; they're not easy injuries.

''We've got to manage the load while we build him back up, because he hasn't done the volume of work like the rest of the group and we don't want him to have another setback.''

Meanwhile, McFadden said they're still weighing up whether Ben Henry should have an operation on his knee at the end of the season to repair some damage that he's had to battle through during this campaign.

''We are looking at all of our options there,'' McFadden said. ''Ben has got the troublesome knee, whether he needs that operation at the end of the year we'll see how it goes. We'll try to manage it through at the moment, but it is a possibility.''

Centre Dane Nielsen played his first NRL game for the Warriors since April in last weekend's win over the Panthers and while he wasn't back to his very best, his performance showed he's heading in the right direction.

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Nielsen will never be the type of centre who scores try after try, but McFadden said he's not looking at him to fill that role in the team.

''He's certainly not as big a threat as Konrad [Hurrell] in attack, but Dane's real asset is his skill and football awareness,'' McFadden said. 

''We've got Manu [Vatuvei] outside him, so Dane doesn't carry the ball as much, because Manu does and that's the balance we get in our team.

''But Dane has got the skills and when he gets the opportunities I'm sure he'll take them.''

- Stuff

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