If Shaun Johnson were a Shark or a Bronco he may have landed the Dally M medal by now. Unluckily for him though he represents the NZ Warriors and more so than ever at this point should he continue to remain at the club, it feels like he will be forever condemned to a career of perennial mediocrity.
Only three games in and the Penrose-based team are already biffing the metaphorical custard pie square into the mush of all those unfortunate preview writers and talkback punters who backed them at least into this season’s NRL top eight. Their Dunedin defeat to the Bulldogs was listless, bordering on clueless at times.
Even with Kieran Foran in the starting side, and make no mistake, he is a proven star, can the Warriors arrest their slide into Wellington Phoenix territory ie. rapidly becoming objects of ridicule.
Why do the Warriors continue to disappoint then? The answer is probably far simpler than we think. In fact Dale Budge alluded to it in a Herald on Sunday column last weekend. That being that their present playing roster, particularly in the forwards, is just too deficient to be a serious title contender.
A case in point: If we examine some pairs of ‘power’ forwards from the first four teams alphabetically in the NRL and a pair from the Warriors, the two from our side kind of stand out like canine’s testicles. There is: Adam Blair and Josh McGuire (Broncos), James Graham and David Klemmer (Bulldogs), James Tamou and Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys), Paul Gallen and Andrew Fifita (Cronulla). And from the Warriors: Albert Vete and Bunty Afoa. The prosecution rests, your honour. Is it any wonder then we are at best a middle-of-the-road team and at worst, a genuine shot for the wooden spoon. It’s probably time to stop kidding ourselves and face the cold, hard reality about where we should reasonably expect the club to finish.
It is all very well aspiring to be at the top or near-enough to in mounting a serious challenge for honours, but until a consistent and winning culture is built up over several seasons more or less consecutively, then we might do well to regard entry to the play-offs as a season which meets or even exceeds the limits of the playing roster.
Unfortunate that since I last wrote a piece at length on the club two and a half years ago (one which needed some replies in light of the mostly very good feedback posted, but when I was too imbecilic to be able to log in correctly in order to tap out a response), the Warriors are still stuck in the same malaise that prevailed back then.
So, little if anything has changed. And how will they fare against the Dragons on Sunday? Will they turn it all around (for now)? As Kieran Foran might say ‘Don’t bet on it’. One thing is a definite though, they are once again an organisation under pressure.
All feedback or discussion, positive/neutral/negative is welcomed at: firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul)