The last weekend of a super-tight NRL regular season promises to be a roller-coaster ride.
It’s one Warriors coach Andrew McFadden doesn’t want his players getting on.
The Warriors are back in ninth spot, but a win at Penrith will lift them into a play-off berth.
Their match is the last of the round, so they will know by kick-off on Sunday night if they’re also still a chance to finish as high as sixth and claim a home qualifying final.
But McFadden says his players have to forget all that.
“We have to try to stay away from what happens over the weekend,” he said.
“Our real priority for this game is performance, then we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
McFadden has identified halfback Jamie Soward as one player the Warriors will have to shackle in a Penrith side he sees as having strike weapons across the park.
“He’s a key person and generally their form swings around how well he plays,” he said.
“We will definitely have a plan around him.”
The Warriors kept their season alive with a 42-0 whitewash of Gold Coast.
While it was one-way traffic on the scoreboard, one battle the Titans won was in offloads, their 22 almost double that of the Warriors, who were forced to burn plenty of additional energy.
It’s something McFadden wants his players to be wary of against the Panthers, whose “less structured version of the game” makes them dangerous.
The Warriors’ own noted offloader, back rower Feleti Mateo, is set to make a return to first-grade after a spell in the NSW Cup.
McFadden was impressed by Mateo’s efforts against North Sydney last Sunday, has included him on a five-man bench and indicated he was likely to play.
“He’s got a unique skill set that can win a game,” he said.
“As long as he has the right attitude towards his football, he needs to be in our side.”