Mateo: Don’t Blame SSS

Feleti_MateoBy STEVE MASCORD
WARRIORS star Feleti Mateo says the club’s Slow Start Syndrome is not to blame for a dismal opening fortnight to 2014.
“To me it feels completely different,” Mateo tells RLW.
“We’re working a lot harder. Our systems in place shouldn’t be allowing this sort of play and we’re letting ourselves down.
“I’m sure it won’t take long and we’ll click into gear.”
Like coach Matthew Elliott, Mateo believes the Aucklanders aren’t sufficiently imposing themselves on opponents.
“I think we’re thereabouts – we’re just not going hard enough. We’re not challenging who we’re playing, physically, enough.
“With the team we’ve got, it shouldn’t be an issue but the last two weeks, we’ve let ourselves down.”
Mateo says the loss to St George Illawarra was an improvement on the previous week’s defeat to his former club Parramatta.
“It felt better out there, even in the second half. The defence was a lot better but there’s always room for improvement.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

McClennan: Mateo ‘Not An 80 Minute Player’

Brian McClennan/wikipedia

By STEVE MASCORD

WARRIORS coach Brian McClennan will analyse his use of the interchange bench in the wake of Saturday’s season-threatening loss to Newcastle.

McClennan was grilled after the defeat – which came despite an 18-0 lead by the 17th minute – over the extent to which his team’s performance falls away when Feleti Mateo, Russell Packer and Ben Matulino are not on the field.

On Mateo, McClennan said: “Yeah, he’s a very influential player but he’s not got the ability to play 80 minutes. Defensively, he tends to get tired. The same with Ben Matulino and Rusty Packer. They’re a pair that like to pair up together.

“I think when we brought Jacob Lillyman and Sione (Lousi) on, that’s the period when we were in that arm wrestle. We’re going to have to investigate further into it and see what we can do to rectify the problem.”

McClennan said he had no set time to replace Mateo each week. Of the props, he said: “I was looking at running the props for a bit longer in the first half … we got some feedback from them that they were tired and needed to come off.”

He said of their collapse: “It also happened when we had less ball. Let’s be fair here. The first 15 minutes, we had the majority of the possession. Why we flattened out, we’ll just have to investigate that further. I want to make sure we’ve got all the facts. We’ll get some feedback from the players.

“We had two back to back away games – a big game against Brisbane and I see that were pretty flat (against Gold Coast). Was that a contributing factor? I’m not sure.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

The WRAP: NRL Round 14 2012

By STEVE MASCORD

CLEARLY, one man’s holiday camp is another’s prison.

As we hunker down for Origin II, we are coming off a weekend on which one team credited a week away together for form-defying victory while another thanked going home at the earliest possible convenience for a success of similar magnitude.

Knocked from pillar to post after losing 40-0 at home to Wests Tigers two Saturdays ago, the Canberra Raiders upped sticks and headed for the Hunter Valley to escape the accusing stares and screaming headlines of the national capital.

The result was one of the game’s biggest turnarounds – a 32-16 success against troubled Newcastle at Hunter Stadium, in which wunderkindEdrick Lee scoring twice to erase the memory of a shocking sophomore appearance seven days before.

“It’s our preparation,” said Lee, the cousin of NBA basketballer Patrick Mills. “It’s all changed this week – we have a different culture for the club. It’s all paid off and we will back it up, hopefully.

“We worked hard to turn it around. It was great to see the boys this week so tight together. “

With family commitments keeping them apart after hours, the Raiders say they needed time to reacquaint with each other.

“The cliché says a week’s a long time in rugby league and this time last week there were a lot of dejected blokes standing around,” said Saturday night’s captain, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs.

“We had a ball (last week) …. just a chance to rub shoulders with the boys. I suppose when you’re in your home environment and everyone’s got their family commitments and all the rest of it …

“Just to get away and put those things behind us for a week was great for team spirit.”

But this morning the Warriors were at Kingsford Smith airport bright and early to head back to New Zealand following their rain-swept 30-16 Monday Night Footbasll win over Penrith at Centrebet Stadium.

That is, even though they are playing Cronulla at Toyota Stadium this coming Saturday.

The common threat in both these approaches is the Raiders.

read on

Mateo: Sorry Tonga But It’s My Time

By STEVE MASCORD

WARRIORS star Feleti Mateo has apologised to Tonga before tabling an impassioned defence of his decision to make himself eligible for NSW and Australia.

With all the focus on James Tamou this week, the selection of the Tongan captain for City has slipped under the radar. Mateo, 26, was granted special dispensation to represent Sydney against Country in 2008 and still turn out for Tonga in the World Cup later that year.

But the Auburn-born Mateo has now committed himself completely to Australia.

“I guess I just felt like I deserve it,” Mateo tells Rugby League Week.

“It was a hard decision to not play for Tonga – especially in the World Cup – but I feel like this is my time and I have to take it while it’s there.”

Mateo would have soon qualified for New Zealand on residency grounds, saying: “It was always an option but I never thought about it. It was Australia or Tonga. Being born in Australia, growing up there, watching Origin, I wanted to play it. That’s what I wanted to do.

“Probably in the past I wasn’t of that calibre to play it, just going on last year.

“This year, with my form, I thought it was probably time to change my allegiance and try and put my best foot forward and try and make it. Last year, at this point in the season, we’d lost three in a row to start the year and I probably wasn’t playing very good either.

“Since then, I’ve worked hard and hopefully I can play good again on Sunday and put my hand up for Origin.”

Tonga believes he should be allowed to return to the Tongan side if he misses out on Australian selection for the 2013 World Cup.

“I can’t (go back) – for now. If things happen and I don’t get a look-in for Australia and Origin, I’ll be asking if there’s something that can allow me to go back to Tonga.

“I think I’ve opened the door for a lot of boys who don’t get picked for their first choice country. The fans want to see the best players play and come World Cup time, the only way to make it as big as it can be is to have the best players playing.

“I spoke to the coach Charlie Tonga and told him wherever I can help, I’ll always put my hand up for Tonga. They’ve done a lot for me over the years and every time I put on the jersey it was one of my proudest moments. I’ll be there rooting for the boys come World Cup.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK