Warriors coach Andrew McFadden says there’s a lot on the line in Sunday’s clash with Penrith and it has nothing to do with taking on his team’s former coach.
The Panthers play the Warriors for the fifth time since former Warriors coach Ivan Cleary took over the team and Penrith have had the Auckland team’s measure 3-1 in that time.
But McFadden says the real test comes from the fact that Penrith are second on the NRL ladder behind Manly.
“They’re a big challenge. They’re on the top of the ladder for a reason. They’re going to certainly test us, and we’re going to have to be up for it,” McFadden said.
“I get the talk around Ivan – he certainly did a great job here, and what he’s doing with the Panthers is very respectable as well – but from a personal point of view, it only matters about our own performance this week.”
Warriors prop Sam Rapira, one of the team’s old guard who played under Cleary, didn’t think there was much advantage from knowing Cleary’s coaching style.
“I suppose you can try and guess what Ivan’s doing from past experiences, but I think you sort of see trends on the video and we tend to go more off that than anything,” he said.
“But if we do what we’re training to do, they’re going to have to worry about us more than we have to worry about them.”
Rapira said Penrith’s biggest strength was their teamwork and it was up to the Warriors to match them.
“They’re a side that I suppose don’t have the big names like the Roosters and Melbourne, but they’re a team that plays as a team and, if you get a side like that, they’re hard to beat,” he said.
“We’re going to have to make sure we work together to get through them but, with our structure, I think we’ve got the skills to do it.”
The match is the second of three consecutive home games which the 10th-placed Warriors are hoping to sweep to push their playoff hopes, and follows a tough 19-10 victory over Brisbane last weekend.