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Warriors fans will need no reminding that their side finished on a nine-game losing streak to end 2017. They finished 13th, equal on points with the Tigers and Titans, only four points above the last-placed Knights.

Simply put, 2017’s stats are not pretty reading for fans across the Tasman. They conceded 575 points, better only than the Titans and Knights, while only scoring 444, better only than the Knights, Tigers and Dogs.

The Warriors have been active in the player market in trying to shake things up. They’ve undertaken one of the larger recruitment drives across the competition which should see a largely different side enter the 2018 season.

Given the way their 2017 limped to completion that can only be a good thing.

Recruitment Grading: B+

The Warriors have recruited very well, although they have lost some star power also. Blake Green’s arrival is a potential game changer. His calmness, experience and ability to just go about his game should finally relieve the pressure on Shaun Johnston. New Zealand captain Adam Blair returns home and should add some much-needed experience up front. He is joined by other Kiwi internationals Gerard Beale, Peta Hiku and Tohu Harris. Unfortunately, they did lose Foran, Hoffman, Matulino and Lillyman, but they have covered those losses pretty well. As controversial as this will sound, I actually believe Green is an upgrade on Foran in terms of the Warriors set up. Foran was brilliant but erratic whereas Green, although less likely to bust a game wide open, is more consistent.

Star Player: Shaun Johnson

Although Green’s arrival will lighten the workload, Johnson is still the main man in Auckland. When is the last time we didn’t say the very same thing during a pre-season? The Warriors were well within the conversation for finals footy before Johnson went down with an injury late in 2017. Although it certainly wasn’t the only reason they missed the eight, it took away their biggest attacking threat and blunted their attack in a huge way. He scored four tries and laid on 18 try assists in just 18 games last season, as well as making 10 line-breaks and kicking 45 goals. I believe Johnson will be even more dangerous in 2018 with the addition of Green. He seems to improve those around him by taking care of the little things allowing the likes of DCE and now Johnson to inject their brilliance when an opportunity provides itself.

Strength: Two of the game’s most talented players

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If you’re building a side from scratch, you could do far worse than starting with the names Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnson. The Kiwi aces combine to form half of one of the game’s most destructive spines. RTS ran for almost 180 metres per game last year, providing the spark to start the sets that made him a star during his time at the Roosters. Nine tries and 15 try assist are fair numbers in a struggling side but he is capable of much more. A fully fit and firing Johnson is arguably the most important player to his team’s fortunes in the NRL. If both players fire they can create havoc for any side, on any day.

Weakness: Over-reliance on RTS and Johnson

You take any halfback out of any side and they will struggle, but no one player has the weight of their club, and nation, on their shoulders quite like Shaun Johnson. As good as the likes of Luke, Green and co are, if Johnson does not play well, the Warriors lose their main route of attack. Backs such as Kata and Fusitu’a should provide more support this season, but I’m very worried that if Johnson is injured or suffers a drop in form, that the tries will dry up in Auckland. RTS is the other freakish player in this side. He can bust open a defensive line from anywhere. His carries back from kicks are instrumental in putting the Warriors on the front foot in 2018. Opposition teams know this and will plan accordingly.

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Prediction: 16th

This Warriors side has no shortage of talent. It contains a host of internationals and plenty of experience. That said, Issac Luke’s form has suffered to the point he is no longer the go-to Kiwi number nine option, and you could argue he’s not even the Warriors best option right now.

David Fusitu’a and Solomone Kata had brilliant World Cup campaigns with The Fus, especially, setting the competition alight.

Unfortunately outside the big few in Johnson, RTS and the workhorse Simon Mannering, the squad just doesn’t look like it will be able to match it with the better sides.

Harris and Paasi are clever ins but neither is built in the mould of game-busting back rowers. Beale and Blair are international players with plenty of games under their belts but neither had their respective sides moving the world to re-sign them.

Outside of Johnson and RTS I just can’t see too many tries in this side. They’ll have to lift massively in defence if they want to challenge for the eight in 2018 as a result. Given that only the Titans and Knights conceded more points in 2017, I’m not exactly brimming with confidence.

Stephen Kearney has a monster job ahead of him. He has a side that can leave egg on the face of doubters, but it will be an uphill battle.

11 COMMENTS

  1. This article is spot on. I can see them going on a run and getting hype but in the end will fizzle out and retain their title as the “once we’re warriors”.

  2. Bought depth and got rid of deadwood like Hoffman and lillyman. Pulu and Paasi are upgrades on both these players. Green and Harris coming from a successful system like storm and green with the ability to take pressure off SJ should see him once again fly. Concerns are RTS impending contracts talks to impact his game but I like what the fus has done in last 12 months and the additions of experienced campaigners like Beale, hiku and gelling should provide further completions for sports and help the young backs at training too. I expect Nicoll Kronstad to be a major beneficiary of these backline additions. Warriors will finish 6th.

    • “Warriors will finish 6th”

      I’d love to get odds on that! Truth is I don’t think the Warriors have the right coach or the right cattle. Shaun Johnson is a running 5/8 not an organising HB with the added pressure of coming up with a kicking game. Blake Green is a 5/8 not a HB and I don’t know if he can handle a first receiver role. If he can he should be HB for the Warriors and free up Johnson to play 5/8 and second receiver on BOTH sides of the ruck (just like the Roosters did with Pearce and Keary in 2017). IF that works then the Warriors will have a decent spine but will still have to contend with a coach that cannot coach and forwards who want to be backs. On paper the Warriors don’t look bad with the addition of Tohu Harris and Blake Green (who let’s face it, does not set the game on fire) but Gerard Beale and Adam Blair are the Albatrosses around the Warriors necks and IMO they will finish in the bottom 4 by the end of the season despite some electric performances at varying times of the season. As usual “razzle dazzle” will not get the Warriors where they want to go, only hard work, patience, discipline and consistency will. That and a top-down clean out of the club to restructure an organisation that has not even looked like working since Ivan Cleary and James Maloney left the club in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

  3. Warriors no hope of a top eight spot. RTS dumb move to leave a successful Rooster team and play for this bunch of losers will be the final nail in the coffin for his Rugby League career. The Warriors will begin the season poorly and by round 6 RTS will announce a lucrative contract with NZ Rugby All Blacks. This bloke with the skills he possesses deserves dual international accolades. The warriors promise so much but deliver nothing. It reminds me of the Roosters transit lounge in the late eighties early nineties when we bought all these players all the time but half of them we old and washed up. On paper the Chooks looked strong but could never produce the goods. Not until Nick Politis enticed Phil Gould to the club in 1995 who cleaned it out, fully rebuilt it, and turned them into a force even till this day. The Warriors really need a top coach to turn things around. I think the best coach without a job at the moment must be Michael Maguire. Pay him what ever it takes to get him there.

    • You WOULD wish that on poor Madge wouldn’t you WoodChook. Hasn’t he suffered enough! LOL

      The Warriors need to start higher than the coach IMO. They need to clean out the organisation from the top down! They also rely far too much on homegrown players or ex-pats (particularly in the forwards) and need to cast their net much wider (just think of James Maloney and Ivan Cleary).

      Is Nick Politis paying you to do his PR old mate, you are dropping his name at every opportunity lately. What happens when Uncle Nick is no longer there to steer the ship will the Roosters sink or swim do you think? Do you think their destiny may be to take the Bears place in the NSW Cup and be a feeder club for Big Brother (the Rabbitohs)? 😉

  4. Far to many backs and not enough forwards.
    1. RTS
    2. Fusitua
    3. Kata
    4. Hiku
    5. Beale

    1. Nickol-Klokatad
    2. Santo/Pauga
    3. Ayshford
    4. Gelling/Soosomea
    5. Maumalo

    1. Few months ago I heard rumours about Sea Eagles being interested in Maumalo and shopping Lewis Brown around. I would Definately make that swap.
    2. Would release Santo as we now have plenty of backs better and younger than him. This would free up some more money.
    3. By Aquiring Mania Cherrington late last year and the possible signing of Lewis Brown we have two extra Hookers to go with Luke, Roache and Teveaga. I’d release either of the latter to for more salary space.
    4. With spare available money size 1 more cheap “out of favour” forward (Sam McKendry my favourite option)

    1. RTS
    2. Fusitua
    3. Kata
    4. Hiku
    5. Beale
    6. Green
    7. Johnson
    8. Blair
    9. Luke
    10. Gavet
    11. Harris
    12. Mannering
    13. Paasi

    14. Brown *sign*
    15. McKendry *sign*
    16. Afoa
    17. Pulu

    Backs: CNK, Ayshford, Gelling
    Halves: Hingaro, Lino
    Hookers: Cherrington, Roache
    Forwards: Vete, Lisone, Sao, MLH, Pappali

  5. YAAAAWNNNNNNNNN….. dumbest article of the year thus far ! 16th ? yeah right , we’ve got probably the best team in the history of the Warriors in 2018, never had the spoon before , and you reckon last ? pttthhhh
    ever heard of Alex Corvo? google him, thats who we got ….Warriors are finals bound this year and i reckon a top 6 finish

    • Mate you had the “best warriors team in history” last year starring the “kiwis spine”. Honestly I hope your right cause Id love to see the warriors doing well but can’t see it.

    • @ bigmanu

      We may have to agree to disagree on where we think the Warriors will finish in 2018 bigmanu but you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Don’t mind the “RedFlea” tr0lls don’t like people to have an original opinion, it only confuses them!

  6. Warriors will have another typical season, but with most teams fielding stronger teams making a stronger comp they will fall down badly.

    Best player: Fusitua
    Best buy: Harris
    Finish: 16th

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