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Vatuvei's NRL best still to come: Elliott

Manu Vatuvei

Warriors coach Matthew Elliott believes giant winger Manu Vatuvei's best in the NRL is yet to come.
Vatuvei's NRL best still to come: Elliott
by AAP

By Robert Lowe

AUCKLAND, May 8 AAP - Warriors coach Matthew Elliott believes giant winger Manu Vatuvei's best in the NRL is yet to come.

But Elliott also wants the player known as "the Beast" to be used less as a battering ram.

The 27-year-old Vatuvei, who has 20 Kiwis caps and 156 first-grade appearances under his belt, has signed a new two-year contract that will keep him at his only NRL club until the end of 2015.

"I really believe Manu's best footy is in front of him," Elliott said on Wednesday.

"He needs to get clear of this little injury bout that he has had, but even today [in training] he's shown his commitment to improving. He's tapping the coaching staff up all the time."

Knee, ankle and sternum issues have restricted Vatuvei's involvement to just four of the eight matches this season.

He returned for the 25-24 win over Gold Coast last weekend, scoring a club record-extending 105th try despite continuing to carry a knee problem.

Elliott said Vatuvei had a high level of influence within the Warriors squad with just his presence.

But Elliott also wanted less made of his nickname and its connotations.

"I know people talk about `the Beast' and all that sort that stuff, but we've got to get that out of our mentality," he said.

"Too much, we shoot the ball to Manu on play two and go `Yeah, run into those 50 people'. He's better than that. He's got a whole heap to offer."

Vatuvei, who made his NRL debut in with the Warriors in 2004 as an 18-year-old, is off-contract at the end of the year and has attracted interest from other NRL clubs, British Super League clubs and rugby union.

He said he looked at the options, but on Wednesday extended his stay at the club for a further two seasons, citing the family atmosphere made the Warriors his preference.

"It just feels like home here," Vatuvei said.


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