Warriors desperate to win battlers’ clash

The Warriors want to snap a crisis of confidence when the NRL’s two ice-cold teams meet in Penrith on Saturday.

Four straight losses, by an average score of 27-6, have sent the Warriors plummeting from fourth to 10th with four games remaining.

That might normally send them into a state of panic as they head to the venue where the Panthers thrashed them by a club record 62-16 two seasons ago.

However, the 14th placed hosts have problems of their own, having lost five straight and suffered an even heavier injury toll than the beleaguered Warriors.

Visiting coach Andrew McFadden doesn’t have time to sympathise with the Panthers, having spent a fraught week trying to lift his team following their 36-0 humbling from St George Illawarra in Wellington on Saturday.

“We are lacking a bit of confidence. We’re down on experience and a bit of class as well,” McFadden said.

“We’ve got some pretty key players on the sideline.”

The loss of prop Ben Matulino to suspension and wing Manu Vatuvei (shoulder) is another blow to their go-forward prosects, which are at least enhanced by the return to fitness of second-rower Ryan Hoffman following five weeks out.

McFadden says while the Warriors are still firmly in play-off contention, the players decided in the wake of their Dragons drubbing that it won’t be a top of conversation again.

“We’ve had a few discussions about how important the next month is,” McFadden said.

“I’m very disappointed about what happened at the weekend.

“You can handle losing, but we certainly let ourselves down there, so we’ve got pride to play for.”

Attacking back Konrad Hurrell, who was dropped for the Dragons game, returns on the bench.

McFadden suggested the chastened centre could benefit from entering a game later, but rejected a suggestion the 24-year-old is best suited to a permanent place on the bench.

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