A nightmare week for the Warriors won’t get any easier when they face NRL opponents who bring a formidable record to town.
Hit by injuries and players breaching club protocol, and coming off a 42-0 hammering by Melbourne, the Warriors now have to try to snap an 11-match losing run against St George Illawarra.
They haven’t beaten the Dragons since 2007, and neither of their survivors from that win – Manu Vatuvei and Simon Mannering – will be on the field.
Skipper Ryan Hoffman, who had plenty of success against the Red V when he was with Melbourne, said he hadn’t been aware of the streak and it was irrelevant.
“Look, they are our next opponent and our next opponent doesn’t matter,” he said.
“It’s what the blokes in black jerseys do on this field on Sunday – that’s all that matters.”
The Warriors will attempt to revive their fortunes with an under-strength line-up.
They are without star fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Mannering and Tuimoala Lolohea because of injury.
Coach Andrew McFadden has also dumped five players originally named to face the Dragons – among them first-team regulars Vatuvei, Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson – to reserve grade.
The quintet were among six players disciplined for “failing to meet club standards” after the Storm loss, with media reporting that some of them missed the start of a team meeting after a late night out.
Before the incident was made public, McFadden had spoken of his confidence that his team would make a positive response to a painful defeat.
“The players were pretty gutted after the game so I expect them to use that hurt and come out with something a bit more spirited on the weekend,” he said.
The Dragons will head to Mt Smart Stadium after back-to-back wins that put them just outside the top eight and two points above the Warriors.
Their squad contains three players returning to familiar surroundings in former Warriors Russell Packer, who made 110 appearances for the Auckland club, Leeson Ah Mau and Siliva Havili.
The Dragons have also had their off-field issues, with coach Paul McGregor being charged with drink-driving last weekend and believed to have been fined $A10,000 ($NZ11,000) by the club.
STATS THAT MATTER
* St George Illawarra have lost just four times in 23 matches against the Warriors and have won the last 11 in a row.
* The Warriors have won only one of their past seven home games.
* Dragons fullback Josh Dugan leads the competition in all-run metres, with 1467 for an average of 183 a match.