For rugby league to grow, the Warriors have got to go

Riley Pettigrew Roar Guru

By Riley Pettigrew, Riley Pettigrew is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    Yes, you read that right: the Warriors should be kicked out of the NRL.

    It’s a bold statement, I know, but hear me out and don’t scroll down to the comments section just yet.

    If there’s one thing consistent about the Warriors, it is poor results. In 20 years of the National Rugby League they have qualified for the finals seven times, their last appearance in 2011. This is, however, a team in a rugby league heartland of four million people.

    Admittedly there have been some great moments, namely the 2002 minor premiership, 2008 finals victory over the first-placed Storm from eighth on the ladder, the 2011 grand final from sixth position and of course all those scintillating plays and talented juniors.

    But rugby league in New Zealand is suffering as a result of the Warriors, with very few pathways for young rugby league players. We have seen in the most recent World Cup the Kiwis struggle, dropping out in the quarter-finals at the hands of Fiji and failing to impress anyone.

    What New Zealand rugby league needs more than a token team in the NRL is a strong national competition that will help to foster the development of young New Zealanders across the country.

    So it is time the Warriors leave the NRL in order to make way for a national New Zealand rugby league competition.

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Of course if this were to happen, there is no way that the competition would rival the NRL, at least not in its early years. It would be similar to the Super League or Intrust Super Cup in terms of quality.

    Let’s first sort out the fundamentals.

    How many teams? Six teams seems to be the optimal amount to start with. Clubs covering Wellington, Taranaki, Waikato and Canterbury as well as an Auckland team – or possibly two – and a Fijian outfit. There would be the opportunity to expand beyond this in the coming years, possibly to incorporate further Auckland teams, Southland, Papua New Guinea or even Northland.

    So with six teams how long would the season run for? The optimal length here would likely be 15 or 20 rounds with a top three finals series. The season could run from April to August.

    Six teams would give a pretty even spread of talent. The salary cap would have to be relatively low in contrast to the NRL, most likely around $2 million to $4 million depending on the size of broadcast rights deals and sponsorships.

    Similar to how the Super League is in relation to the England national team, the big stars – think Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnson – would probably continue to play in the NRL while players like Simon Mannering (think Sean O’Loughlin), Ken Maumalo and others may find themselves in the New Zealand competition.

    A new league could also be a happy hunting ground for ageing players from the NRL wishing to continue playing but not able to travel halfway across the world to England.

    (AAP Image/ Action Photographics, Shane Wenzlick)

    As this will be a professional rugby league competition, a change to the World Club Challenge will take place. Instead of playing NRL versus Super League, the champion league (for example, the NRL) would automatically seed, leaving the winners of the other two competitions to fight it out for the second spot. Obviously if there is enough space in the calendar, it would be possible to squeeze in a tri-series, but for the time being this seems to be the best option.

    Now for the fun bit. You didn’t seriously think I would fail to mention international rugby league, did you?

    As the NZRL competition would finish in August, a four-week Pacific Challenge series would take place in New Zealand. Players for New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Cook Islands would be taken from the NZRL or alternatively from teams no longer competing in other parts of the world – so if the Newcastle Knights were to again finish at the bottom of the ladder, for example, it would mean that the Saifiti brothers would be available to represent Fiji.

    Following a four-week Pacific Challenge and the conclusion of the NRL grand final, Australia and New Zealand butt heads in a two-leg Anzac Test before breaking up for tours at the end of the year.

    How does this impact the NRL?

    Obviously the Warriors going makes for 15 franchises. The NRL could stick with this and have one team taking a bye each week or alternatively use the opportunity to expand.

    It could mean that one of Perth, Papua New Guinea or a second Brisbane team finally joins the NRL.

    As long as the Warriors are in the NRL, rugby league is going to suffer.

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (43)

    • December 29th 2017 @ 12:06pm
      sean said | December 29th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

      The first thing NZ Warriors have to do is get rid of the term ‘Warriors’. They put in performances that a heartless and use a slogan that represents the Maori warriors from the past is an embarrassment.

      Get a decent coach in there and things would change. Craig Bellamy and his staff would make them a consistent top 8 team.

      • December 29th 2017 @ 12:40pm
        Greg Ambrose said | December 29th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

        Getting a decent coach sometimes improves teams but usually results in little change. History proves this across the board with teams performing badly. Bellamy could be different but we won’t know if he doesn’t change clubs.

        One thing is sure however, if Bellamy never coached NSW in SOO ( for three series losses ) it would be widely accepted that he would have been the answer to QLD’s domination.

        • December 29th 2017 @ 1:13pm
          ktone said | December 29th 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

          the culture needs to change before the coach.

        • December 29th 2017 @ 1:24pm
          BA Sports said | December 29th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

          That said, when you look at the list of coaches, like Kearney, McFadden, Elliott, McLennan etc. I think a decent coach would go along way to at least getting some consistency in their play.

    • December 29th 2017 @ 12:21pm
      ktone said | December 29th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

      considering the NZRL are broke and cant even afford to see a team to the GC commonwealth games I really don’t see how they can afford to create professional competition.

    • Roar Guru

      December 29th 2017 @ 12:37pm
      Sleiman Azizi said | December 29th 2017 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

      I like what you want to do with this idea Riley.

      I’m just not sure if removing the Warriors is the way to do it.

    • December 29th 2017 @ 12:44pm
      BA Sports said | December 29th 2017 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

      So your proposal for improving the pathway for young rugby league players in NZ, is to create a league for aging NRL players to go earn money and cut into the existing opportunities?

      Based on that plan, juniors would continue to come to Australia – recruited by NRL clubs, leaving NZ with second tier juniors while the best players, of NRL calibre, will still be in the NRL. So you are expecting rugby league to survive on players like Charlie Gubb and Mason Lino?

      And of course the NRL TV deal will require a team to come into the comp to replace the Warriors so whether that is Perth or Brisbane, the quantity of players required is the same – so the Simon Mannering level player will still be able to earn better money playing in Australia.

      And you don’t seem to be factoring in that New Zealand has a population less than NSW. How do second tier leagues and second tier sports go for sponsorship dollars, spectators and TV deals in NSW? Not too well. League will lose players to Union in NZ where there is more money, clearer pathways and more opportunities to be a professional player under that system.

      Sorry – you need another plan for league in NZ.

      • December 29th 2017 @ 6:21pm
        Bill said | December 29th 2017 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

        Exactly right BA sports, I am sure the roars answer to improving Rugby League in New Zealand would in fact kill it.
        Does he not realise that a professional competition would already be in operation if the New Zealand RL could afford it.
        His ideas are nothing short of ridiculous.

        • Roar Guru

          December 29th 2017 @ 9:11pm
          Sleiman Azizi said | December 29th 2017 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

          I’m going to step in for Riley here.

          Despite the title, his idea is not necessarily to get rid of the Warriors. It’s actually about improving pathways for New Zealand players to help ensure a robust future for the code in New Zealand.

          Removing the Warriors from the NRL would highlight the real weakness of rugby league in New Zealand – the lack of pathways for players there.

          How do you improve the pathway options for players so that rugby league in New Zealand doesn’t just rely on the Warriors?

          That is the real question Riley is asking here.

    • December 29th 2017 @ 12:44pm
      Not so super said | December 29th 2017 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

      Very relieving that you don’t have a place in RL administration

    • December 29th 2017 @ 12:59pm
      Big Daddy said | December 29th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

      Big call Riley.
      With everyone clamouring for expansion your thoughts are to can them.
      It would have so many ramifications.
      For New Zealand league to grow they have to be part of the NRL.
      There are so many basket cases where everyone’s solution is to shut them down or relocate them.
      You only have to look at gold coast who have been more starts than a racehorse with limited success and every one wants to retain them.
      Every one has growing pains and unfortunately the warriors are the the Carlton club.
      I.E the club you got when you don’t want a club.
      I would vote to retain them only for the fact that rugby league has to be a reality in nz.
      Punting would give union a foothold in nz you may get back.

      • Roar Rookie

        December 29th 2017 @ 5:17pm
        Dogs Boddy said | December 29th 2017 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

        Union don’t need a foothold in NZ.

        NZ is Rugby Union. They love. live and breathe the sport over there and always have.

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