From The Spotter
Once again fans of the NZ Warriors in the NRL have been left feeling desperate and confused. They’ve now been witness to a three-year term of relative failure (by relative I mean by what their team could potentially have achieved with some of the magnificently-athletic talent in their squads). In giving wildly fluctuating performances since their unlikely run to the 2011 Grand final against Manly, have they become ‘the wearisome Warriors’? One more season of unfulfilled promise and horrible inconsistency and a moniker like this will certainly not be far off the mark.
It’s vexing as to why they often can’t rise to the occasion when we all oh so want them to. About the only thing I’ve come up with so far on this exasperating condition is a migraine-inducing zero.
So without much of an enlightening diagnosis at hand all I’ve got to offer is some advice about what the Warriors might consider for next year:
1. Do not move Shaun Johnson from halfback (unless Johnathan Thurston or Cooper Cronk were coming, which ain’t happening of course). I’m aware he’s not in the top echelon of halfbacks yet, and yes, he probably needs to take more control more often rah-di-rah, but the guy is still exceptionally good when he’s playing well and I ask you these two things: Would anyone else bar a proven superstar have done a better job as the club’s number seven in 2014 and where would the Warriors have finished in the NRL with another player on their roster in that position?
I mean, they struggled did they not those few weeks Johnson missed near the season’s end. And by the way, if you saw the look on his face during the onfield interview after the last game loss to the Panthers, there was a man who looked highly cheesed off at their defeat and he sounded it too. At least we can be assured there is a steely determination that lies within his make-up. Oh, and the man is as quick as a cheetah on steroids, too.
2. Should Captain Mannering fall injured for any length of time in 2015, give the captaincy to Ryan Hoffman. Proverbs originated for a reason and the one which states ‘success breeds success’ would apply to Hoffman. A multiple title winner with the Storm and Australia, Hoffman has the kind of week-in, week-out consistency of performance that a flaky team like the Warriors need. He plays above his weight and I would see him as a Kevin Campion or Steve Price-type player that puts his head down and gets on with it no matter the circumstance- a natural leader that others instinctively follow. His ball skills are none too shabby, either.
3. They need more of a ‘money ball’ selection policy for the run-on side. Style will only get so far over substance and it probably won’t take you to a Premiership unless you have an inordinate amount of luck along the way. Throwing the ball around like a hot potato might land you a Nines title but it doesn’t cut the mustard in a five and a half month grind in the NRL. Selections based on cold hard statistics, lowest possible error rates and well-defined and well-honed skill sets and roles in each position on the field would surely give them a better chance of becoming a genuine top-four contender season by season, instead of the usual saga of hanging around seventh to tenth spot near the end of every regular season and hoping that they can squeeze their way into the September play-offs.