Matulino return boosts Warriors for Eels clash
If Warriors forward Ben Matulino has been firing on half a cylinder, imagine what he could do when he is fully fit.
Matulino, who hasn't played since June 7 and after injuring himself at the start of May has been missing two days of training a week, has also been one of the form forwards of the competition.
Such is his expected impact on an already firing Warriors team, coach Andrew McFadden is set to bring him back at the earliest opportunity against the Eels at Mt Smart Stadium this evening.
Matulino will add impetus to a Warriors team on the charge after six wins from eight games. They face an Eels team that sits on the same number of competition points, but has lost its past two games.
Matulino made it through his first full contact training in weeks, on Wednesday, after keyhole surgery to remove damaged cartilage from his right knee.
The knee was not quite at 100 per cent but was ''good enough to play on'', he said.
He wasn't able to pinpoint when exactly he suffered the injury but thinks it was against the Raiders, at the start of May.
Matulino, who is signed until the end of 2015 with the Warriors, has made 300 runs this year gaining more than 2800m in the process.
The NRL average is 100 runs and under 1000m. He has also made 31 offloads with his swinging right arm a feature of many of the Warriors' plays.
The Warriors will be looking to make amends for their first-round 36-16 loss to the Eels. Things threatened to derail for the Auckland-based team after that loss but it now sits inside the top eight on 20 points.
Both the Warriors and the Eels have come off a bye week but the momentum, and the crowd support at Mt Smart Stadium, are with the Warriors.
The Warriors are only weakened by the loss of the experienced Sam Rapira, with Suaia Matagi coming into replace him.
The Eels have a 50 per cent win record in the past eight games but have lost their last two encounters.
They cannot be discounted though, with a massive forward pack and backs that can shred any defence in the competition.
Fullback Jarryd Hayne has not been named in the team but the Warriors are expecting him to play.
The Warriors' backline is again expected to put on a show for the home crowd. In the three games they have played this year at Mt Smart Stadium they have scored 11 tries.
What did you make of the Warriors' ninth-place finish in 2014?