Mateo's focus on Broncos but Origin on cards

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 30/06/2013

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Warriors back-rower Feleti Mateo is ready and waiting for a call up for the New South Wales team for State of Origin III, but says he's not holding out for a call from Laurie Daley.

The Blues were well beaten by Queensland on Wednesday and it's likely that NSW coach Daley will make some changes to his side for the decider in Sydney in a few weeks.

If Daley is picking on form it is hard to go past Mateo.

He has been playing outstand-ingly well for the Warriors over their four-game unbeaten run and will no doubt have a big impact again today when they take on the Broncos at Mt Smart Stadium.

"It would be really nice and fingers crossed, but I can't imagine them changing them too much," Mateo told Sunday News.

"They just got outplayed and they know they've just got to play better.

"I don't know if they will change many personnel, but if they do I'll be ready."

Mateo played in the City v Country game recently and is clearly on the radar with the Blues.

All of this was before Mateo started playing so well and came at a time when he was deciding whether to re-sign with the Warriors or move back to an Australian club.

He admits that those contract negotiations affected his form and it is a relief that that is all behind him.

"It played a part in my performances leading up to it and I'm human, I couldn't say that sort of stuff didn't play on my mind, because it did for a while," he revealed. "But I am happy that all of that stuff is done and it has shown in my footy. It is always good to know where your future lies and having three years of security has definitely helped me over the last month."

The Warriors go into today's game on the back of four straight wins and it's not just on the field that things have turned around. Mateo admits that when the team were going through their tough times earlier in the season they began to feel ashamed to be seen around Auckland.

"After that loss against Penrith, it was definitely a moment where the boys felt embarrassed to be out in public, and rightfully so.

"We did that damage to ourselves, but what's happened over the last four weeks has certainly helped when we walk through customs at the airport. We get a few more smiles now."

If the Warriors were to win today it would further propel them towards a place in the top eight, something that seemed unachievable a month ago.

When they met the Broncos a few weeks ago in Brisbane they smashed them 56-18, but that night the home side was missing Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker and Matt Gillett, who were on State of Origin duty, while Ben Hannant was injured.

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So, not only will the Broncos be motivated by seeking revenge for that embarrassing loss, they'll also be doing that with a far superior side.

"There is a massive change to their team, effort-wise they won't be the same team we played against last time," Mateo warned.

"They have got their Origin players back and that is a massive boost for them and I know from our experience of getting beat by a large margin, the next week you always want to put in a big effort."

The Broncos are a team that usually have a large number of people supporting them when they play in Auckland. Warriors' Mt Smart Stadium crowds this year have, unsurprisingly, been disappointing. But fans should be out in numbers today because of how well the team are now playing.

"There are good reasons for the fans to come along and support us now," Mateo said. "There probably wasn't much to watch at the start of the year but now we're playing a good and exciting brand of football, it gives the fans every reason to come along and hopefully the weather holds off."

- Sunday News

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