The Warriors-Parramatta clash in Auckland will feature two big wingers in try-scoring form – home favourite Manu Vatuvei and the Eels’ Semi Radradra.
The Warriors need no introduction to the NRL’s top tryscorer.
Parramatta winger Semi Radradra’s haul of 15 tries in as many matches was kick-started by the hat-trick he nabbed in the 36-16 victory over the Auckland-based club in round one in Sydney.
The big Fijian has also scored in each of the Eels’ past four fixtures heading into their clash with the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
Coach Brad Arthur credits the service Radradra is getting from centre Willie Tonga, and the jobs done by five-eighth Corey Norman and the forwards, for the 22-year-old’s hot streak.
“At the end of the day, Semi gets the cream but there’s a lot of work that goes on inside him,” he said on Friday.
While the Warriors have named Queensland prop Jacob Lillyman to start, Arthur has stuck with his decision to rest NSW fullback Jarryd Hayne after State of Origin three.
A congested table means points are vital and the Eels sit just outside the top eight on differential.
But Arthur said there were still nine rounds to go and he also felt it was better for his team to prepare with the same players throughout the week than have Hayne come in late after a big game.
Parramatta’s training session on Friday was a homecoming for prop Peni Terepo, with the Eels choosing his junior club, Mangere East Hawks, as the venue.
For the Warriors, the match is a chance to exact some revenge for what happened at Pirtek Stadium in early March.
Their own giant winger, Manu Vatuvei, said they would have to do a better job of shackling Radradra, who will be on the opposite side of the field.
“We know how strong he is,” he said.
“The last time we played them, he carved us up.”
Both sides are coming off a bye and have the same 8-7 record.
But whereas the Eels’ momentum has stalled with two successive losses, the Warriors have won their last two to climb into the top eight for the first time in 2014.
Their 30-20 victory over Penrith before their break included Vatuvei’s 10th try of the campaign.
It meant the 24-Test Kiwi reached double figures for tries for the ninth consecutive season and it also extended his club-record tally to 128 in 185 appearances.
“I’m pretty lucky and blessed to achieve that, but I can’t take all the credit,” he said.
“All the hard work comes from our team. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be scoring those tries.”
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said it wouldn’t just be a case of his players stopping Radradra and Parramatta would have a similar challenge.
“It will be about them stopping Manu,” McFadden said.
“He’s fit, he’s confident, and he’s just been working hard.”