GRAND FINAL DAY LOCKED IN | Three big fixtures next Sunday at Sydney's ANZ Stadium! Burleigh and Ill...
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New Zealand Warriors skipper Monty Betham has modified his tackle technique but won't be toning down his aggression after two appearances before the National Rugby League judiciary that put him on the sideline for two games.
Betham comes back against Canberra in Wellington tonight determined to stamp his trademark on the game - stinging tackles that drive attackers backwards.
"It's been frustrating watching, but it refreshes me at the same time," he said.
"It's a good way to come back into it with a good challenge."
Betham last played a month ago in round eight against the Panthers.
He said he had been working hard to prepare for his return, and was keen to lead the club to their first win at Westpac Stadium.
He has played there twice - in the Warriors' draw with the Bulldogs in 2001 and New Zealand's test loss to Australia last year.
He had no apologies for the tackle that kept him out of the game against the Bulldogs in Wellington three weeks ago and the Eels match a fortnight ago.
"Things like that do happen - you can't help that with our confrontational style."
He felt a little hard done-by, he said, especially after watching Canberra Raiders second-rower Ruben Wiki walk on a similar charge.
He has worked with coach Daniel Anderson to adjust his tackling style so he stays out of further trouble, but neither coach nor skipper want to change things too much.
"I'm just going to play the way I play," Betham said.
"It was one incident - nothing will change the way I play or the way I lead the team."
Anderson said the good thing about the "Wiki incident" was that everyone else could use it as a precedent in judiciary hearings.
He did not want Betham to soften his approach.
"He can still sting blokes in a different style. I want him to maintain his solidity and enthusiasm."
Awen Guttenbeil and Lance Hohaia had colds this week but will play. John Carlaw's hip-flexor problem is bothering him less and Anderson said he had trained well this week.
Back utility Jerome Ropati will travel to Wellington as cover, elevated ahead of pre-season favourite Vince Mellars, who tore a knee in Bartercard Cup play.
Anderson said that winning in Wellington for the first time was a big personal motivation, "and I'll be pushing that with the players."
During the Warriors' two weeks off with the bye, they had tweaked the game-plan and refined the role of key players.
Anderson was happy with the way they maintained pressure on Parramatta in their last game, and what was required now was more control of the speed of the game.
"We have to be playing it how we want and do that the whole game - force the issue a bit."
With Canberra, "you know where everything is going to come from."
"The Raiders will be fired up - no team likes to lose three in a row."
Anderson was hoping for fine weather, but said that even when it was fine, evening dew had made conditions slippery and difficult every time they had played at Westpac Stadium.