We’ve all heard the jokes about the Warriors being the team that promises so much but can’t get the job done.
Whether its the one about the fan whose request is to have the Warriors carry his coffin so when its time to be buried, they can let him down just one more time OR the joke about why Ken Maumaolo can’t park his car in his garage because someone drew a try line on his driveway.
The New Zealand franchise has been perennial underachievers. Despite making it to two grand finals since 1995, the Warriors are one of only two clubs in the NRL who has never won a grand final. Even though they’ve made big signings, replaced their coach regularly and re-jigged the team culture – the Warriors have lacked consistency and desire in the last few seasons.
And it’s not gone unnoticed over the ditch. The Aussie pundits have been pretty overt about their lack of faith when it comes to backing the Warriors.
In last years grand final Ryan Girdler called out Tohu Harris’s passionate Melbourn Storm performance saying: “Tohu Harris is playing like he’s in his last ever Grand Final & considering he’s off to the Warriors next year he probably is.”
"Tohu Harris is playing like he’s in his last ever Grand Final & considering he’s off to the Warriors next year he probably is” – Girds
— Triple M NRL (@TripleM_NRL) October 1, 2017
And this year, Sydney’s Triple M radio has Mark Geyer (MG) hosting their Rush Hour drive time show and he’s predicted the Warriors will be wooden spooners in 2018.
Maybe MG’s had too many head knocks but its fair to say he’s written off the Warriors for doing anything in 2018.
And this is where he’s wrong and here’s a list of seven reasons why he’s dead set wrong.
1. Blake Green
Manly’s loss is the Warrior’s gain. In 2016 – Daly Cherry-Evans was lost without his Foran to lead him around the park. In 2017, Green entered and turned his season around. Manly may not have made it to the finals but Cherry Evans found the form he had lost and had a season that saw him close to a Dally M Halfback of the year award. Green is a steady hand and will keep Shaun Johnson out of the traffic and allow him to play his running game. He’s going to steady the ship in the middle of the park and let Johnson show his quick step. Green has hi s family over in NZ and he brings a maturity to the standoff position that has been lacking in the Warriors in recent years.
2. Alex Corvo
The new Head strength and conditioning coach. With a background at the Melbourne Storm, Brisbane Broncos and Queensland Maroons, he’s made sure fitness is not going to be called into question in 2018. Corvo is readying the performance unit to make sure the boys hit new fitness targets and opportunities in 2018. His pedigree with Grand Final teams will stand this Warriors 2018 team in good stead.
3. It’s time
The Warriors players read the back pages– they know what it means to not make the final eight for six years in a row. They know they are the only team in NZ and they know they’ve lost the reputation of being a hard team to beat. They’ve always been known for their big forwards and their ability to grind teams down – this opinion has changed in the last six years. It’s time for the tide to turn. It’s time for the club to perform.
They have nothing to lose. They are experienced on the field. The difference between winning and losing games has been small opportunities – in 2016 there were multiple games in Golden Point. Stephen Kearney tried to limit the creativity of the team in 2017 and it didn’t work. Between Kearney, former coach Andrew ‘Cappy’ McFadden and assistant coach Stacey Jones – the 2018 team are going to combine hard work, effort and the off the cuff skill that the Warriors can bring.
Even though some big players like Kieran Foran and Ryan Hoffman have left in 2017, there are some guys who have been retained at the Warriors who are set to explode in 2018. James Gavet – never one to shy away from a cracking hairstyle, is set to show his power on the field, Simon Mannering is a star performer and ready to bring more of his stability. Solomone Kata and David Fusitu’a had great world cup run with Tonga and players like Albert Vete, Bunty Afoa, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck are primed to have big seasons.
6. Issac Luke
He’s turned up at pre-season training ready. And he’s made it through this January RIPPED as… He’s also off contract in 2019 and he’s playing like a hungry dog. You think Damien Cook is fast and ready to run at the opposing pack? Then watch Bully – he’s coming for ya!
7. No excuses
Memberships are down. This time last year 4,000 more fans had bought memberships. 2018 means no margin for error. Mess this season up and they’ll lose the faithful. Effort is everything. It’s time to get your shirt dirty, put your money where your mouth is and step up. There are no excuses this year – we’ve had all the excuses under the sun. Earn the respect, earn the fans adoration and then its glory forever. The 2018 Warriors know that its do or die. With a nine-hour travel time to the first game in Perth against an impressive South Sydney team for Round 1, the Warriors will be set to front up.