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Leuluai eager to get back into action

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/04/2016 By Robert Lowe

Thomas Leuluai is champing at the bit as he prepares for his first NRL appearance in 11 months after recovering from a knee injury.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden says the utility, who has been named on a five-man bench for the match against Manly in Auckland, will play on Saturday night barring any training mishap.

He says Leuluai, 30, has probably been right to go for the past two to three weeks, but the club decided on a conservative approach.

"He's been pushing me and in my room fairly often about when he can play," McFadden said on Wednesday.

"We've been conservative, but he's very excited to get back on the field." Leuluai, who operates at hooker and in the halves, suffered the injury in a 17-13 win away to Parramatta last May.

McFadden acknowledged there would be a risk in putting the 31-Test Kiwi straight back into first-grade, but said it was no different than if he were to play in a lower-level fixture.

"That's why we don't want to put too much pressure on him," he said.

"He will have a limited role at the weekend, but it's something that we know he can give us impact."

Leuluai's return is balanced by the loss of another experienced campaigner in giant winger Manu Vatuvei, who is out with a hamstring issue.

The Warriors will go into the match boosted by their dramatic golden-point win over the Sydney Roosters in Gosford.

That result improved their record for the season to 2-3 and lifted them to 10th on the table and above the 13th-placed Manly on points differential.

However, the Sea Eagles have been a bogey team, beating the Warriors in nine of their last 10 meetings, including the past three.

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