Coach Brian McClennan says winger Manu Vatuvei was simply trying too hard when he gave up the error that ended the Warriors' hopes of upsetting NRL frontrunners Melbourne.

A first-half try-scorer as the Warriors raced out to an early 12-0 lead in Auckland on Sunday, Vatuvei went on to produce a crucial late turnover while trying to bust up the touchline.

Melbourne took full advantage with skipper Cameron Smith scoring a try he converted to seal a 22-12 victory.

McClennan said Vatuvei was doing it tough after the match.

"He's distraught at the moment because he tries so hard for our team and that's why everybody is protective of him, myself included, big time," he said.

"It's just that he was trying to ignite something to help the team and just trying too hard and overplayed it."

McClennan said it was a mistake, but one he could forgive.

"If I can say this - someone that's trying too hard and overplays and makes a mistake - I prefer those mistakes than the other one where blokes aren't having a proper dig," he said.

"He's trying his heart out out there. Let's just make sure we remember that.

A 20-Test Kiwi and a Warriors' icon, Vatuvei has extended his club try-scoring record to 95.

But the 26-year-old also copped criticism for his errors in the Warriors' 24-22 defeat to Wests Tigers before their bye last week.

Vatuvei said mid-week that he expected the Melbourne kickers to target him but, interestingly, the Storm sent most of their attacks down the other flank.

NZ Newswire

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