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Warriors bemused over Manly massacre
Five days on and New Zealand Warriors coach Ivan Cleary is still scratching his head.
Pummelled 52-6 by a rampant Manly, Warriors team management this week launched an investigation to find out what went so horribly wrong at Brookvale Oval last Monday.
Cleary and his men retraced their steps in the lead-up to what turned out to be the third heaviest defeat in the club's history.
In the end they found nothing - or at least no fault in the NRL team's preparation.
And as such, the Warriors have vowed to move on, with both players and coaches desperate to make amends on Sunday against an in-form Newcastle at Mt Smart Stadium.
"It all wound up pretty wrong on the night really," Cleary said of the Monday night massacre.
"We were bitterly disappointed with how we went.
"There were so many boys who didn't play well but it is probably just a case of individuals just getting themselves back together and performing on Sunday."
Acting captain Ruben Wiki said he was sure there would be no repeat of the performance on Sunday.
"We will never play like that again. Those games only come once or twice in a blue moon," Wiki said.
"It is something that we don't want to see again. The boys are just keen to get out there and get some respect back from the fans and the club."
New recruit Brent Tate said the Knights clash would test his team's character after such a heavy defeat.
"I think it will be a real chance for us to bounce back this week," said the Australian centre.
"I have been through a similar performance in Brisbane where we got beaten by Melbourne once ... that was I guess a similar situation to what we find ourselves in now."
Ryan Shortland, 21, will make his Warriors debut at centre on Sunday having arrived at the club from Melbourne in the off season.
"He is very solid. He has most things covered ... It is a good opportunity for him to get a shot," said Cleary.
Shortland, who played one NRL game for the Storm last season, said he was looking forward to taking to the field on Sunday but expected a tough contest against the Knights.
"They are a young team ... at the moment they are doing well, so we just have to match their enthusiasm," he said.
After surprising many by winning their first two games, the Knights continued their promising early season form last weekend against Parramatta, despite losing to a Luke Burt field goal in golden point extra time.
Newcastle coach Brian Smith is expected to stick with the 17-man squad which nearly toppled the Eels, with veteran centre Adam MacDougall's comeback from a knee injury delayed by at least another week.
Cleary said he expected the Warriors injured centre Jerome Ropati to be eligible for selection for round six, while it is still unknown how long captain Steve Price will be sidelined with a knee injury.