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RUGBY: Injured Warrior Leivaha Pulu rules out early return

Leivaha Pulu played in the Warriors first five victories of the season before suffering the foot injury.
The forgotten man of the Warriors early season winning streak will not be making a premature return from the wounded ward.
Leivaha Pulu, one of the key cogs in the Warriors wheel of success in the opening five rounds of 2018, has told Stuff an early comeback is off the table.
The former Gold Coast Titan was struck with a foot injury in the lisfranc joint during the round six loss to the Brisbane Broncos back in April. The 27-18 defeat was the Warriors first of the season.
Rumours of an earlier return than the round 20 date that was originally slated have been bubbling away but the back-rower, who was in career best form on the left edge until the injury – has all but ruled that out.
“I’ve probably got another five to six weeks, hopefully, to start running fully on the track with the boys,” Pulu said of his match day return.
The 28-year-old is in Christchurch undertaking school and community visits to spread the rugby league gospel ahead of Saturday’s round 14 contest against Manly at AMI Stadium.
Leivaha Pulu scores for the Warriors during the 30-6 victory over the Roosters back in March.
“I haven’t got a target round at the moment it’s just listening to the physio and hopefully I’ll get the OK sometime soon.”
The 28-year-old, who has only had his cast removed in the last few weeks, has been able to maintain some of his fitness by cycling and upper body work.
“I’m glad to be up walking again and hopefully I’ll be up and running in the next three or four weeks,” Pulu said.
The Warriors, who are coming off a bye following a 10-30 loss to the Rabbitohs late last month, almost certainly need to beat Manly if they are to remain in the top four by the end of the weekend.
Pulu labels the Manly game as crucial and he is not wrong.
If the Warriors, who currently sit fourth on the NRL ladder, lose to Manly they could find themselves down in seventh – courtesy of a shocking points differential – if the Rabbitohs, Storm, Sharks and Roosters win – as they are expected to do.
To be a genuine top-four threat, Pulu knows the Warriors must find more consistency and physicality in the second half of the season.
“Hopefully the boys can turn up for the second half of the season and rip in,” Pulu said.
And Pulu knows the Warriors big men must set the tone.
The Auckland based club’s four defeats in 2018 have all come when its middle forwards have failed to gain the upper hand.
“Our boys in the middle need to take it to them,” Pulu said of the Manly clash.
“We need to start hard and fast and show them we are out to play.”
Pulu said that starts with turning up with the right mindset – something he is backing his teammates to do in Christchurch.
In addition to grinding Manly into the ground in the early forward battle, Pulu is urging his teammates to regain their offloading form that he says has been missing in recent games.
“We need to play our style of footy and bring the offloads back.”

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