The Warriors have taken action against Russell Packer for urinating on the pitch before Monday night’s big win against Brisbane and the big prop has been told by coach Matt Elliott to clean up his act.
The 23-year-old has been at the centre of Warriors debate this week, which has taken attention away from their best performance for some time, and he also caused the club to be slapped with a A$15,000 fine by the NRL.
Packer was off limits to media today but Elliott said he had been spoken to. The club are still deciding whether they will challenge the NRL’s sanction, which they see as excessive, and chief executive Wayne Scurrah said they would reveal the action they took against Packer once the issue has been resolved.
“It’s a really difficult one for us as a club,” Elliott said. “We have taken some internal action as well as the NRL. Us and Russell recognise that we would have preferred what happened against the Broncos didn’t. We are going to deal with it and move on.
“There were 25 other people out there who didn’t have the same issue. He needs to get on board with what the other 25 did.”
That might prove challenging. Reports surfaced yesterday that Packer’s public toilet break wasn’t an isolated incident – he reportedly did it during last year’s game against the Eels at Parramatta Stadium – and Packer also admitted to Channel Seven it was “not the first time that has happened and it won’t be the last time”.
Packer sat out some of training today with a sternum injury but Elliott said he should be fit to play against Manly at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday. Winger Manu Vatuvei was also resting a niggling knee injury and should also be fine but back-rower Todd Lowrie (ribs) won’t play.
The Warriors had a light training session today in the hope freshening them up because they will come up against a well-rested Sea Eagles outfit who had the bye last week.
Manly are fourth on the NRL ladder with seven wins, three defeats and a tough 10-10 draw against the Storm and have a terrific record against the Warriors – they haven’t been beaten since 2009 and won 11 of the last 13 between the two sides.
The Warriors’ mindset has been one of the central themes over the past fortnight since the 62-6 hammering by Penrith and they will need to go in with the right attitude on Sunday. It’s something they need to be mindful of every week with games against the Roosters (A), Broncos (H) and Rabbitohs (A) as well as a bye to follow.
“You have heard me use words like process and evolving,” Elliott said. “I think part of where we are at as a team is developing the right mindset and understand what that is for our team to play well. I am learning it as well.
“Confidence is a scary word to use because confidence tends to fluctuate. We want to be relying less on confidence and more on the attitude that depicts our team. We are starting to build that.
“I think the weekend’s result has to be as significant as that [Brisbane] one as well. We will really know the answer to that in four weeks’ time. I don’t think it’s a matter of arcing up for two weeks and saying it’s turned our season around. Let’s be honest, we have some more turning to do.”
So, clearly, does Packer.