NRL: Warriors blocking out Foran talkSave
By Dale Budge
The Warriors players have blocked out the speculation around Kieran Foran's playing future by concentrating on Tuesday's clash with the table-topping Storm in Melbourne.
While the club's front office works through the permutations of life with or without off-contract starts, including halves Foran, Shaun Johnson and prop Ben Matulino, coach Stephen Kearney has ensured his troops are thinking football first.
Kearney has spoken to his players about not getting too caught up in the rumour mill around contract discussions with a number of the game's most highly-regarded players that has dominated newspaper columns this week.
"Within the team, we haven't really talked about it all," veteran forward Simon Mannering said. "You wouldn't even know amongst the group.
"It is part of our work and everyone has probably gone through it from time to time - this year more than ever. For the guys involved - no one has really talked about it or mentioned it."
Mannering admitted that Kearney had spoken to the players about the situation.
"He has said it is a part of our job - the guys that need to think about it are dealing with it but we put it to one side.
"We have a pretty special occasion to deal with Tuesday and all our focus is on that."
Mannering spoke about what it means to play on a day that has so much history and meaning to Australians and New Zealanders.
"It is more to just savour the occasion - there are only two games on the day - so it is pretty lucky to be able to play on Anzac Day and to play a great side like Melbourne is a cool challenge."
Coach Kearney is happy to take plenty out of the side's last-start loss to the Raiders in Canberra.
"We challenged really well for 40 minutes in the first half and had a couple of opportunities come our way in the back end of that first half," Kearney said. "It would have set ourselves up for the second half.
"I just thought we lost our way a bit with our ball control in the second half and didn't continue to maintain pressure on the Raiders.
"That's been the focus for us all week and part of the review process."
The Storm are coming off a win in which they conceded 26 points - a rarity for the Craig Bellamy-coached outfits team has talked about really tightening up their defense this week but Kearney isn't too worried about what his opponents are doing.
"Regardless of what they've come off the back of or where they're at - it is a real opportunity for us to focus on our performance."