By Harbour Heather
Even on a dreary Waikato evening, you could see it through the rain. Hoffman has no idea what else he can do. You can see it on his face, a painful cyclone of thoughts and emotion. Sometimes fleeting, other times clearly frustrating him. What am I doing here? Why? Why can’t we fix this? Why does this keep happening?
Don’t they know I’m a premiership winner, a NSW and Australian rep? I’m pretty sure, and he may never admit it publicly, that he thinks “I deserve better”.
He is continually leading the Warriors kick-chase efforts, something which has seemed optional for the team in the past. He leads the talking on the field, puts in 80 minutes of solid effort and clocks up numerous tackles.
But you could see it on Friday night. He was exasperated, out of ideas and over it.
Same, Ryan, same. The difference is, I guess – although it’s no consolation – you are being paid to be there, whereas we’re paying to witness it. I imagine the hurt is just the same.
On Friday night, the Warriors right edge defence was awful. Only one team seemed to learn from that. Ill-discipline crept in, with missed tackles and silly errors, like crazy forward passes. You can forgive one or two of these moments, especially in wet weather. But not twenty, thirty, fifty.
What is happening? This is a question we ask most seasons with the Warriors. No team ever has the perfect season, but in recent memory, the Warriors have never given us the feeling that the team will safely make the playoffs. We have speculated and hung hopes on everything from new signings to coaching musical chairs, but this is almost always in deluded, desperate hope.
Seeing the lead slip away in Penrith was bad enough. But the St George loss was worse to watch given the repetitive ease of their scoring. Sometimes, when watching a Warriors side capitulate, you find yourself asking why. Why is this happening? Why can’t they…..? Sometimes it’s truly baffling. Friday night wasn’t one of those nights. It was very clear what was wrong, as St George took advantage of a young right edge, scoring three tries and making multiple breaks.
It was some stage during the second half, trailing in the rain, when the Warriors conceded a penalty close to their line, when Hoffman threw his hands half in the air, before seemingly reigning in his frustration. Or perhaps he wondered why he was even frustrated anymore. All Warriors fans have had that moment of being surprised that they’re surprised by any of this these days.
Thank you Ryan. We are losing you next year, and I can’t help but feel like I should apologise. It was very noble of you to come here and try and save us from ourselves. Others have tried, with varying levels of success. Kevin Campion, Steve Price and Ruben Wiki quickly come to mind. Taking the captaincy was a professional challenge for you and something which should have been carried forward into this season.
Please keep trying, and please keep trying to bring the others with you. It’d be great to send you out, for the first and only time in your stint with us, on the dizzying high of merely qualifying for the finals. Dreams are free.
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