NZ Warriors: Less whingeing, more commitment, the order of the day
Matt Elliott’s appointment to the head coaching post of the NZ Warriors has already been greeted by reports of disgruntlement within the Warriors’ playing ranks, because Tony Iro was overlooked.
This lack of professionalism from the Warriors should strike terror into the hearts of Warriors fans everywhere.
The way the Warriors’ players have greeted this announcement smacks of a child throwing his toys out of the cot, and it just isn’t acceptable from a team, whose performances last season were some of the most disgraceful that I have ever seen on a football field.
This was down to a couple of factors.
First, the fact the Brian McClennan did not appear to have even hired a wrestling coach, which led to the Warriors being dominated around the ruck week after week.
At the beginning of the season, a combination of brilliance and luck managed to keep them in contests, round one against Manly and round three against the Bulldogs, where they managed to pull themselves out of holes, come to mind, but they eventually succumbed to sides getting superior speed out of the ruck for 80 minutes.
Secondly, an alarming lack of fitness. This was crucial not just because the Warriors kept fading in games, but because this lack of fitness led to a big injury toll.
They consistently lost key players throughout the season, especially in key positions which led to continually shifting players around positions and disrupting their ability to structure attack.
Case in point is the multiple times Kevin Locke was injured mid-game, leading to Maloney, who was an excellent foil at five-eighth was Shaun Johnson, being shifted to fullback, and Mateo, who was not such a great foil, being moved to five-eighth, which took the threat of Maloney breaking the line out of play.
Lastly, and most importantly, was a complete lack of heart. The Warriors this season were the epitome of a soft football team. Let’s look at round 22 against the Sharks.
At home, with the crowd willing them on, and their season on the line, the Warriors produced what was probably the most pathetic display from an NRL side of the last 5 years. When you need a win to stay in finals’ contention, teams usually put in a focused, hard-nosed display, with hard hitting and committed defence.
The Warriors missed 48 tackles, attacked with no real intent, and were flogged 45-4. To make matters worse, they followed it up with another shocker display against North Queensland, losing 52-12.
For the rest of the season, Warriors fans were treated to the sight of their team throwing in the towel week after week.
Two late tries to throw away a match winning lead against Penrith, five second half tries against a Dragons team that, for most of the season, wouldn’t have been able to get through a straw defence, let alone an NRL one, and the coup de grace, letting in six extremely soft tries to the Raiders at home, having led 22-6 at halftime.
This group of players have no right to whinge about the coaching appointment. Matt Elliott has always produced competitive teams from average lists, and demanded a high work ethic and professionalism from his players.
This competitiveness and commitment to a strong work ethic is something that the Warriors are in desperate need of.
One hopes that new recruits Todd Lowrie and Dane Nielsen can bring some of the Storm’s famed culture of hard work and commitment across with them.
Instead of whingeing about the new coach and threatening a mutiny, the Warriors’ players should take a good hard look in the mirror first, and shape up. Or else Elliott may ship a lot of them out, and I for one, as a Warriors fan, would not be sad to see them go.