By Keith Miller
So there you go – another Warriors season done and dusted, well before it should have ended.
It started so promisingly (again) with big signings Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck arriving amidst great fan-fare to ensure the club was a genuine Top 4 option. So it was off to Campbelltown in Round One to play the Wests Tigers, a team who were touted as finishing in the bottom three. The Warriors were blasted off the park in the first half, and it was all downhill from there.
Tuivasa-Sheck was ruled out after Round Five with a busted ACL, Luke took a few weeks to get into shape (before playing pretty well), and after three rounds they were 0-3. In retrospect they never really recovered.
Their chief playmaker Shaun Johnson went missing in action for extended periods throughout the season, and watching Luke do the kicking (goals, drop outs and penalties) three weeks after knee arthroscopy gave some indication of where both players’ hearts were at. Johnson consistently failed to get his hands on the ball at crucial periods throughout the season, and it cost them. Granted, there were often times where the platform was not set by his forwards, but quality halves can often change games regardless. Johnson couldn’t.
After 25 rounds the Warriors were somehow still in it, but in reality, they never should have been in that position to begin with. They should have been well entrenched in the Top Six weeks ago.
Ultimately the blame will be laid at Andrew McFadden’s feet, and a very fair argument can be made that he failed miserably to get his team up for the big games. He looked devoid of ideas halfway through the season, and his chopping and changing of the backline 3-4 weeks from the end of the competition reeked of desperation.
But the Warriors have – again – dug themselves a gigantic hole. What to do with the coach?
After the much vaunted signing of Matt Elliott a few years back (as the “coach we were always targeting” lies were in full swing) ended up in disaster, the Warriors appointed McFadden to the caretaker role. That was fine – until they then decided to give him a four year contract as Head Coach. Until then he had never coached in the NRL.
In fact, that was a pointer to the Warriors history. In their 20 year history, they have had 10 coaches – only two of them (Elliott and John Monie) have had previous NRL first grade experience. That is a ludicrous statistic. In fact, in the last 12 years, since Daniel Anderson left, the Warriors have not had a coach with a winning record of over 50%.
The Warriors have become the breeding ground for coaches with no experience.
So they took a massive punt on McFadden, and as yet he has failed to deliver. He was always on a hiding to nothing, but he’ll stay. Why? There’s nobody else around.
They had a crack at Craig Bellamy, but instead of biding their time tried to pressure him into a now-or-never decision. Quite rightly, he told them to piss off. What about Wayne Bennett? He’ll be in Auckland once hell freezes over. Which will be just before Ivan Cleary returns.
So it comes down to Geoff Toovey. Realistically, he’s the only one on the market. Does he want to come to Auckland? If he has seen what has happened in the last six weeks of the season with the talent on offer, why would he?
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