You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Kearney preparing for Panthers' best

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/05/2017

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney © Phil Walter/Getty Images Warriors coach Stephen Kearney Penrith have been all over the shop in the early rounds of NRL this season but Warriors coach Stephen Kearney says he's preparing his troops for the best the Panthers can throw at them on Saturday (5pm).

Considered pre-season contenders for Premiership glory, the Panthers have flattered to deceive in 2017 and have won just two matches from nine games.

Their poor start, including five losses on the bounce, leaves them second-last on the NRL ladder - and with a finals berth already slipping away.

The Warriors, meanwhile, have found a new attacking groove through director-in-chief Kieran Foran and have worked their way up to 11th.

Nevertheless, Kearney said the Warriors would be braced for Penrith's best, including improved showings from prop James Tamou and precocious half Nathan Cleary.

Tongan-born Kiwis centre Solomone Kata returns from a hamstring strain, shoring up the Warriors' left edge, but the workrate of stalwart Simon Mannering will be absent after the ex-captain picked up his own hamstring issue.

Ben Matulino is currently listed as Mannering's replacement at lock.

"They're certainly a dangerous team, can certainly play some football on you when they want to," Kearney told reporters.

"Our focus is on building on our last outing (a 14-13 win over the Roosters).

"There were some pretty good parts to that performance, and there were some areas we need to improve on."

Foran, 26, listed the side's strong line defence against the Roosters as something to take into their match in western Sydney.

That defensive desperation is a far cry from the side's 2016 form, when they conceded more than four tries per game on average and finished 10th.

"We're building a real resilience of defence on our line and, at the end of the day, that's what wins competitions," Foran said.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon