Warriors need to add mongrel, steel to bite

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2013
Matt Elliott
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MATT ELLIOTT: "I'll be quite honest with you - I'm concerned about this game, because of the distractions associated with the opposition."

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OPINION: With coach Matt Elliott's position seemingly safe, the Warriors need to look at their on-field leadership as they try to end their recurring NRL nightmare.

Or make that lack of on-field leadership because captain Simon Mannering's style certainly doesn't seem to suit the circumstances.

Elliott has received the public backing of chief executive Wayne Scurrah and club chairman Bill Wavish in the wake of their record 62-6 loss to Penrith.

Changing Elliott so swiftly on the back of dumping previous coach Brian "Bluey" McClennan doesn't appear to be the answer to the Warriors' woes.

The club struggled to attract top-drawer coaches when they came up with Elliott and nothing has happened to improve the appeal of the team as they add total disintegration to their alarming habit of capitulating with handy leads.

Elliott certainly hasn't come up with any magic potions to rid the Warriors of the problems that plagued them over the back half of last year.

Something needs to be done though and a common trait to the repeated problems seems to be a disturbing lack of any fire and brimstone on the field as things turn from bad to worse.

The Warriors could do with some mongrel in their pack but they could also do with a bit of steel in their leadership.

Mannering is a pleasant bloke, well respected in this environment, and a solid soldier in the NRL ranks.

But is he inspiring enough to turn this around? From what I've witnessed this year, there is little evidence of him taking his team by the scruff of the neck and telling them to pull their socks up.

On-field leadership is a concern for the Warriors beyond their current captain.

The departure of uncompromising Australians like Steve Price, Micheal Luck and James Maloney hit the Warriors hard.

The spine has gone out of the pack and there is no direction in the halves.

When Mannering was injured last year, McClennan took the unusual step of appointing Manu Vatuvei as his stand-in skipper but it seemed McClennan's assistant coach, Tony Iro, was doing most of the talking through his waterboy role.

Elliott has promised changes this week, as he tries to shake some life into his squad ahead of Sunday's clash with the Knights in Auckland.

Should that shakeup include his skipper?

Elliott's problem is the same as McClennan found - there aren't many alternatives. He has got a veteran in his ranks in Nathan Friend who doesn't take a backwards step and a recent State of Origin player in the form of Jacob Lillyman. If Elliott can't bring himself to dump Mannering, he at least has to demand more out of his senior players. Fairfax NZ

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- Fairfax Media

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