Leuluai eased back in for clash with the Sharks

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 08/08/2014
Thomas Leuluai
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HE'S IN: Thomas Leuluai is on the comeback trail.

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The Warriors are preparing for a physical encounter with a down and out Sharks side but are being cautious about risking their star players.

Both Shaun Johnson and Konrad Hurrell were earlier this week ruled out of the round 22 game at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday and yesterday at training Thomas Leuluai, Johnson's replacement in the halves, took a reduced role.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said Leuluai would play and it was simply about managing his return after a long injury spell.

"It's just managing his load from week to week. As we play more games we have just got to be careful we don't overdo him."

There is a growing link between Leuluai and fullback Sam Tomkins and McFadden said they were picking up were they had left off from Wigan.

"There is a bit of a sixth sense there and it is great that they are building combinations but all of this side are building their combinations."

McFadden said that they were treating Hurrell's hamstring strain conservatively.

"He is a bit stiff and sore. I'm not sure how long it could be but it could be a couple of weeks.

"I think we have got a pretty capable replacement. Ngani [Laumape] is going to play out there on the right hand side and they are two peas in a pod those two."

There was no risk of the Warriors taking the Sharks lightly, despite the team being last on the NRL ladder, having won only five games this season.

"They are a very dangerous side, Cronulla. They have some real strike there - a big forward pack and the physical side of the game is going to be important."

McFadden said the Warriors had "a bit of confidence" after their 54-18 trouncing of the Raiders but they were not getting ahead of themselves.

"We need to prepare really well and we had a really good session.

"We are not looking at what we need to make the eight, we are focused on performance. We know that if we get that right then there is an opportunity to go up the ladder. It would be ideal to get top four, top six but that's not a goal of ours. Our goal is to win this one." Fairfax NZ

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