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Storm can be beaten by size: Panther Manu

Penrith back-rower Sika Manu says former club Melbourne are most vulnerable against physically big teams, and urged his Panthers pack to make their size count in Sunday's NRL clash with the Storm.
Storm can be beaten by size: Panther Manu
by AAP

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, May 9 AAP - Penrith back-rower Sika Manu says former club Melbourne are most vulnerable against physically big teams, and urged his Panthers pack to make their size count in Sunday's NRL clash with the Storm.

In Manu, the Panthers have a man who spent six years in the Storm inner-sanctum and got very used to sitting in a winning dressing shed.

But when victory becomes a habit, the losses and the reasons for losing tend to become more obvious.

The Storm have struggled most against the Warriors and Canberra in recent seasons - including last week's streak-breaking loss to the Raiders - and it's no surprise those two teams boast among the biggest engine rooms in the competition.

Manu says he and fellow mountain-men monsters Tim Grant, Nigel Plum and Mose Masoe will take it to the hardened Storm pack.

"I reckon we can. I think we've got the bigger forward pack," Manu said.

"We can really challenge Melbourne in the middle this week.

"We have to use it to our advantage."

Manu doesn't want emotions getting in the way this week, but admits it's difficult to treat his first match against the Storm as just another game.

"It's weird. But the good thing is I know a bit more about them than some of the boys here so I'll be giving a few tips," he said.

The Panthers have won just two matches this season, but Manu has no regrets about making the move.

In fact the proud Tongan international believes his game has flourished as a result of moving out of his comfort zone and the Storm's regimented style.

"I feel I've got a bit more freedom here to be able to play football and show my skills instead of just taking up runs and tackling," Manu said.

"Ivan's (coach, Ivan Cleary) encouraging me to do that at the Panthers, and if that helps the team out I'm happy to do it."

The other factor in Penrith's favour is coach Cleary, who from his tenure at the Warriors, has a winning percentage as good as anyone against Craig Bellamy's heavyweights.

Cleary agrees with Manu that success against the Storm starts in the middle.

"Anyone who has had success against the Storm have been able to challenge them in the forwards, so that's absolutely necessary this week," he said.

"You've got to be at your best, that's the most important thing. They've been the benchmark for five or six years.

"You've got to get in a position where you can compete with them. If you can do that, then who knows."

The Panthers must regroup after missing out on another marquee signing, with Todd Carney agreeing to stay on with the Sharks for a further five years.

Penrith were also unsuccessful in luring Johnathan Thurston.


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