Warriors can rise to the Sea Eagles' challenge

BORN LEADER: Simon Mannering has been outstanding for the Warriors this year.
BORN LEADER: Simon Mannering has been outstanding for the Warriors this year.

With seven games to go, today's clash will define what lies ahead for the Warriors.

The Sea Eagles stand head and shoulders above everyone else in the NRL season, despite their numerous off-field issues.

So, if the Warriors win, then there's no reason to suggest why they couldn't make it to the Grand Final this year, but a loss would have their faithful fans pondering if this is going to be another season that offers so much but ultimately fails to deliver.

The loss to the Broncos last week was disappointing although not catastrophic, but Warriors captain Simon Mannering knows how significant today's game is.

"It will be a great challenge after coming off a loss and hopefully it's a kick in the arse, we move on and put in a strong performance against Manly," Mannering told the Sunday Star-Times.

"Every week from here on in is important, for us, we don't need to prove anything to anyone but each other. Whether people say we have a chance or not after this game doesn't really bother us.

"We need to put in our best performance and if we do that and still get beat, then so be it, but as long we're doing that week in week out, we can have no complaints."

Last season the Warriors were playing catch-up to sneak in to the top eight after a dreadful start to the campaign.

They got themselves in a position where they had to beat the Dragons in the last game of the season and then hope other results went their way.

In the end, the Warriors were abysmal against the Dragons and really didn't deserve to play again that season.

But this year it's different, the Warriors have been a consistently good team since Andrew McFadden took charge, their destiny is very much still in their own hands.

"Hopefully we don't get into a situation where we're counting on other teams losing and we have to win our next game," Mannering said.

"I hope we don't get to the point where we have to start counting games, so like I said, this will define what our season is and it's exciting and challenging. Hopefully we can make this a memorable one."

The most eye-catching battle today will be in the halves, when Shaun Johnson and Chad Townsend go up against Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans.

Mannering knows Foran well from their time together in the Kiwis and is fully aware of how much of a threat he poses.

"Kieran plays a real tough brand of footy and challenges the line really well," the Warriors and Kiwis skipper said.

"That's his strength as a half, that he does that and holds players up. For us, the first thing is to control that ruck so he has less time and then put some pressure on their outside backs. He's a quality player and hopefully has a quiet one against us.

"Any time your halves play well, then you're a chance of winning. They are not necessarily matching up against each other, it's other guys around them. But if your halves outplay their's, that's usually good enough to get the win."

Sunday Star Times