What’s doing with the Warriors?

Mark Campbell Roar Guru

By Mark Campbell, Mark Campbell is a Roar Guru

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15 Have your say

    The Auckland Warriors came into the competition with high hopes and expectations. The club has failed miserably and consistently since its inception.

    A name change to New Zealand and multiple colour evolutions have not helped the club to any success. So where has it all gone so wrong for such a promising organisation?

    Their debut season in 1995 was overshadowed by the outbreak of the Super League War. Their opening game against Brisbane attracted 30,000 fans. This crowd flocked to see rugby league at its best and may have left disappointed that the Warriors didn’t win, but they were most certainly not disappointed with the contest. Their first game was brilliant to watch.

    In any case, they finished the season with more wins than losses and the future looked bright. Maybe expectations have always been unfairly placed on this team. Most fans at the time thought and feared that the club was going to be as dominant as the Brisbane Broncos. Now, most fans of the game only wish that to be the case.

    Whether rugby league fans like the Warriors or not, they are the game’s representatives in New Zealand. Often, their performances leave fans frustrated not only with the Warriors but also with the game.

    The success or lack of success of the Warriors, unfortunately, impacts on the game in general and in a country where rugby union is king, the Warriors need to be successful for the game to get the attention it needs.

    Success did finally come the Warriors way when they won the minor premiership in 2002 and made the grand final in 2003. A brilliant Stacey Jones try put them ahead, and the game was still very much in the balance until Richard Villasanti smashed Brad Fitler when he was on the ground. Adrian Morley and the Roosters forward pack were having none of that. The Roosters won 30–8.

    Stacey Jones for the Warriors

    (AAP Image/Andrew Cornaga /Photosport)

    Despite having three consistent seasons, the 2004 Warriors were back to their choking best. The 2006 salary cap drama cost the club a spot in the playoffs. Though, the club would eventually get back to the grand final in 2011, losing to Manly in an entertaining contest; they have failed to progress. The best place they have finished since is ninth.

    So where to from here?

    The club has changed names, colours, coaches and they have not worked. They have bought big names, used local talent, and the results have been somewhat much the same.

    Recently, there has been a discussion over new owners – though I think Eric Watson is stable and I am not convinced new owners will produce any magic wands.

    I am, and I am not, a Warriors fan. I want them to do well, so the game does well in New Zealand. I like watching their brand of rugby league. It’s entertaining when they are on, but when they are not, it looks like the players don’t want to be there. It also seems that some players go to the Warriors and become worse players – that’s never a good sign.

    In 2017, the Warriors had 17,428 members. This amount placed them 11th on the list. Very much consistent with their on-field form. However, for a club that represents a nation, this is not good enough.

    I know with more success more fans will join, but the club needs to do more. It is obvious I know, but the more the club engages with the fans, the more it attends junior coaching clinics, schools and other local events the more the local fans will be tolerable towards their performances.

    The club needs stability. Ownership talk and player and coach turnovers do not excite fans into wanting to commit financially to a team.

    Shaun Johnson running with football

    (AAP Image/David Rowland)

    Despite all the doom and gloom, the club has the potential to be dominant. It has sponsorship opportunities that every club envies. If it improves it scouting networks, the club has first dibs on any promising junior that comes through the Kiwi system. All of this bodes well for the Warriors.

    No doubt the Warriors have tried to implement this already, but it needs to succeed with this before any expansion of the NRL takes place. At the moment, the Warriors have to compete with rugby union for talent which is hard enough, but if a Wellington bid were successful in gaining entry to the NRL, then they would have yet another rival to the talent pool.

    Personally, I would like to the Warriors revert to the Auckland Warriors brand and go back to their original colours. I would like to see their pathway continue in the NSW Cup as this exposes their players to a better brand of rugby league that is currently produced locally in New Zealand.

    Finally, I would like to see the Warriors have success, and not just for a single season, but continuously like that of the Broncos or Storm. If the Warriors go well, then the vibe of the game is good, and this only benefits the growth of rugby league in New Zealand.

    New Zealand / Auckland Warriors
    First Season: 1995
    Titles: None

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • December 23rd 2017 @ 4:36am
      PanthertillIdie said | December 23rd 2017 @ 4:36am | ! Report

      Made the grand final in 2003? Pretty sure that was Roosters vs Panthers.

      • December 23rd 2017 @ 10:07am
        Mark Campbell said | December 23rd 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

        PanthertillIdie you are correct. Correction: The Warriors made the Grand Final in the same year as they won the minor premiership. I knew this – just an oversight. In 2003, the Panthers beat the Roosters 18 – 6. It was a great game.

    • December 23rd 2017 @ 8:04am
      Greg Ambrose said | December 23rd 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      It’s interesting that you say that the GF against the Roosters was in the balance but the Roosters won 30-8. I agree with you. Same in their loss to Manly in the 2011 GF. The Warriors were on top of Manly in the second half and were within sight of a win. I can’t recall what shifted the momentum back to Manly, perhaps a Warriors mistake.

      Anything can tip the balance in a game of league and the final score line is so often met with howls of ‘team x would have won anyway’ if you express a well thought out belief that one incident altered the course of the game.

      What has happened to the Warriors shows that not one of us has any clue as to what will happen to any team over the next 10 years or so. If someone had of said to me that the Sea Eagles would have an amazing record against the Warriors on their home turf all these years later back in 95 I would not have had a bar of it.

      The Warriors used to be one of the best if not the best teams to watch play and they just needed to get a little bit smarter to win a title but they are now rather boring and they lose. I seem to recall teams having a poor record in the week or two after playing them because they would give you a good old working over but that has gone also.

      • December 23rd 2017 @ 12:20pm
        Pickett said | December 23rd 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

        Too right about the 2002 GF Greg.
        It was 8-6 to the Worriers at half time and they were looking really good.
        It was the flying headbutt from Villasanti that galvanised the Rooster pack and also the 40-20 from Freddy that tipped the balance to Easts in the GF. The final scoreline looked convincing but it was anything but confortable. Easts ran away with it in the last 10 minutes. Just goes to show that a game can hang on one or two incidents.

        I fully agree that the Worriers should go back to being called Auckland and that Sydney Roosters should go back to being called the Eastern Suburbs Roosters. Or just Easts Roosters.

        • December 23rd 2017 @ 12:56pm
          Jacko said | December 23rd 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

          Can they go back to being called the Warriors???

          • December 23rd 2017 @ 4:10pm
            Akari said | December 23rd 2017 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

            They’ll have to IMO lift the fitness and stamina of their Polynesian pack by 5-6% before they’d rightly earn the right to be Warriors, Jacko. They could try and learn a trick or two from the ABs on how they get the team to lift the team’s fitness and stamina and shift the momentum when they need to in the last 10-15 minutes of a game.

      • January 5th 2018 @ 7:41am
        Anthony Te Hira said | January 5th 2018 @ 7:41am | ! Report

        We as kiwi fans are there to end and we will always be there for them because we love our New Zealand Warriors team so we for our Boy. We love all of them and that is from all of us Kiwis

    • December 23rd 2017 @ 9:31am
      RandyM said | December 23rd 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      They should do everything in their power to get Craig Bellamy to come to the club.

      • December 23rd 2017 @ 11:48am
        Greg Ambrose said | December 23rd 2017 @ 11:48am | ! Report

        Bennett and Sheens went to weaker clubs with huge reputations and had no effect . Bellamy coached NSW with no effect. The Warriors had perhaps the best spine in the comp a year or two back with no impact.

        Recruiting the best coach has a very mixed history just ask the Dogs fans with Hasler.

        I’d love to see Bellamy change clubs to see what happens.

        • December 23rd 2017 @ 1:04pm
          Jacko said | December 23rd 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

          Hi Greg, I dont really believe the Warriors have ever had the best spine in the comp. That claim always revolve around Johnson and the guy is a very flawed genius. Sure he can do the most amazing things you will see on a league field but he does genius 5% of the time, Average 70% and downright shocking 25%. The failure to be consistant means he will never be a great.. The Warriors have let a lot of junior talant go because of johnson and its continually costing them…Id rather have TeMare and Lolohea than Johnson because at least you know what you get each week

          Yes would love to see Bellamy given a shot at coaching them but I doubt he would be silly enough to take that on…

          Also I 100% believe the travel factor is a major cause in their constant failure

          • December 23rd 2017 @ 2:18pm
            Greg Ambrose said | December 23rd 2017 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

            Hi Jacko, I’d say when Foran , Johnson , Master and the Souths hooker they were rated the best around. In hindsight that didn’t work out as planned for various reasons but Easts are favorites to win with a spine on paper really good but still not as good as this one were potentially

            Travel didn’t stop them getting to two GF’S and the Cows couldn’t win on the road at all until they became on the road champions

            If the Storm were a failure there would be all sorts of reasons or excuses such as travel or not getting the culture , no juniors or all sorts of other factors.

            The Warriors at least should be extremely hard to beat at home.

            • December 24th 2017 @ 10:13am
              Jacko said | December 24th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

              Greg the travel for the Warriors is majorly different to any other club. Teams travel to NZ once or maybe even twice in the same year…The Warriors travel every second weekend on average and International travel has massive hrs added simply due to needing to be at the airport min 2hrs v min 45mins for domestic. Customs takes far more time than picking up your luggage from the carousel and walking to a bus. The Cowboys are the team that comes closest but Townsville to melbourne will take around 4 hrs with an hr extra for load and unload…the shortest trip the Warriors do is 4hrs but has another 4 pre/post travel.

              EG. Auckland to Sydney: If the flight leaves at 9am

              up at 5.30..get to airport 6.30 get thru customs etc in to plane it flys to Sudney and presuming there is no delays which are very common, get to sydney around1pm..1 hr to get thru customs…I\( minimum) then off to bus then to Hotels by around 3pm their time (1pm Aus time)

              Then other clubs decide to take their home game against the Warriors to Perth which is a 15 hr trip

              The return to NZ trips are worse as the y either leave a bit later in the day and get to NZ at Night or the leave Aus so early the are up at 4 to fly out around 8am

    • December 23rd 2017 @ 3:33pm
      Boz said | December 23rd 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

      Change their name and colours back to Auckland for sure.

      The best thing that could happen to them would be another New Zealand team in the NRL. Some competition in the local market is the kick up the arse they need.

      • December 23rd 2017 @ 8:22pm
        woodart said | December 23rd 2017 @ 8:22pm | ! Report

        league is not strong enough for another nrl team here.

        • December 24th 2017 @ 8:58pm
          Boz said | December 24th 2017 @ 8:58pm | ! Report

          Bah Humbug.

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