General ackland keeps faith


Ackland keeps faith
by: Aaron Lawton

New Zealand Warriors assistant coach John Ackland believes his side can overcome the Melbourne Storm at Olympic Park on Saturday night, despite having a number of key players sidelined with injuries.

Nathan Fien, Wairangi Koopu and Tony Martin, all regular starters this season, have been ruled out of the clash with the NRL's top side.

However, Ackland says he is confident some of the younger players will make the most of their opportunity to step up to the plate and play first-grade football.

"You like to have your best team on the field but injuries are a fact of life and you can only play the players that you have got," he said.

"They're all good players, the guys in our squad of 25.

"All clubs have injuries and you have just got to cope and get on with it and do you best."

The Storm has impressed throughout its 2006 campaign and currently sits comfortably at the top of the competition ladder with a six-point buffer.

Despite other teams such as the Parramatta Eels and Canterbury Bulldogs looming on the horizon as potential title contenders, Ackland believes Melbourne has proved to its critics that it is the best team in the competition.

"Well they have to be," he said when asked if he thought Melbourne was the best side.

"They are leading it [the competition] by six aren't they?

"They have been the most consistent team all year so it's a good benchmark for us."

The Warriors head into the Saturday night fixture on the back of impressive wins over the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys and Ackland is expecting his side to extend its winning streak.

"I think we played very professionally against the Cowboys," he said.

"That's the second time we have held a team to nought this year so I think we will go across to Melbourne with a lot of confidence."

The Storm will once again be without the services of star fullback Billy Slater who is serving the final week of a suspension, his third for the season.

However, Ackland believes young rookie Greg Inglis has filled in admirably for the Storm during the absence of the State of Origin star.

"He [Inglis] has come onto the scene like a blazing comet," said Ackland.

"Billy Slater is a great player but I don't really know how much they have missed him, given that they have got Inglis there at the back."


victory, along with atleast 56+ points to add to our points differential mwahahahamwahahahaha!!