Fans’ faith fading fast in flippant, frustrating Warriors

Jeremy Brown Roar Rookie

By Jeremy Brown, Jeremy Brown is a Roar Rookie

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    Winston Churchill once said: “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

    If I’m being honest, I didn’t know he was a Warriors fan. If he was, then I’m not surprised he enjoyed a drink.

    Each NRL season, Warriors fans hold their collective breath; dreaming of finals glory while mentally preparing themselves for inevitable disappointment.

    It’s as tragic as it is galvanising. No one quite understands the pain of being a Warriors fan like another Warriors fan: that slight hesitation when making match predictions, or the wry smile when someone inevitably says ‘this year will be our year’.

    Or even worse, ‘next year will be our year’.

    We suck it up; smile and find a quiet spot to binge eat through the tears while listening to the love songs of Michael Bolton.

    Ok, maybe that’s just me, but listening to How am I supposed to live without you was far less painful than watching the Bulldogs game.

    2017 Warriors’ predictions have ranged from being Premiers to contenders for the wooden spoon. Three games into the season and things feel depressingly familiar.

    Despite significant changes at the club, there appears to have been no significant change in performance. It feels like spending a fortune on car repairs only to discover it’s got the same old problems.

    And no one likes to admit they bought a lemon.

    So after hours of careful analysis, and only a few large drinks in small glasses, I have some thoughts for the Warriors faithful.

    It might not inspire confidence, but should at least provide some comfort you are not alone.

    Reason for hope? Donald Trump is the President of the United States.

    If a bright orange reality star with hair like ginger candyfloss blowing in the wind can become the most powerful man in America, then the Warriors can bloody well win the NRL…

    …And Australia could win the next Rugby World Cup… Eddie Jones will be magnanimous in victory… And the Indian cricket fraternity will acknowledge their averages are inflated by playing so many matches at home.

    There are a lot of good things happening at the club, and the development of some of the emerging talent is encouraging.

    But there are two critical acquisitions that could define or derail the Warriors’ season: Stephen Kearney and Kieran Foran.

    Stephen Kearney in 2008

    Foran represents much of what many feel the Warriors have been missing: Steel, direction, desire, and leadership. If he is at his best, then the Warriors could do anything.

    His direction and organisation will provide opportunity for Shaun ‘Fred Astaire’ Johnson to pick his moments and play what he sees without the pressure of having to pick every moment.

    Stephen Kearney is the most successful Kiwi coach in history and will be reuniting with the Kiwis spine at the Warriors.

    He has been able to extract the best out of them in the black jersey, why not for the Warriors?

    The Warriors have some of the most passionate fans in sport. But it could be time to review our approach, as far as inspiring battle cries go, ‘Keep the faith’ is an embarrassment.

    I can only assume ‘we’ll be competitive until Origin finishes’ or ‘maybe next time’ were already taken. Even ‘let’s gone Warriors’ is preferable.

    To those who insist on carrying signs to matches or using ‘Keep the faith’ as some sort of defence for poor performance – just don’t. There’s no need.

    Even the most fanatical zealot couldn’t question the faith of anyone still attending a match (let alone buying supporter’s gear) after 22 years without a title and seven without even playing finals football.

    Your presence alone is testament to your commitment.

    So what could go wrong? Everything. Or nothing. And we still don’t make the finals. Bloody hell, what an awful thought.

    As much as Foran and Kearney inspire hope, it is fair to say each has challenges to work through.

    Despite Foran’s undoubted ability and leadership qualities, he appears a man with more weight on his troublesome shoulders than Atlas. Add significant expectation and a painfully public private life, and something might just give.

    While many of the players have worked with Kearney in the Kiwis environment, how will he adapt to the pressure of generating weekly results for New Zealand’s only NRL franchise?

    That pressure will only increase if it takes time to entrench his philosophies and systems.

    This year the Warriors have a favourable draw with five of their first six matches at home. Three matches in and already Kearney has added words like ‘disappointing’, ‘confusing’ and ‘inexcusable’ to his post match comments.

    Over the last few seasons the club has invested considerable resource reviewing and improving support structures, resulting in changes to personnel at all levels.

    But the only thing that really matters is results.

    Those changes won’t mean anything if the Warriors continue to drop balls, miss tackles, give away penalties late in the tackle count and go missing post-Origin when the games matter most.

    Anything less than finals football this year will see the club fairly and squarely back at square one.

    Kieran Foran of the Eels

    So will this year really be the Warriors’ year?

    Probably not.

    But despite all the signs to the contrary, it still really feels like it could be.

    I know. I know. I have problems.

    We have the greatest Kiwis coach ever, quality players in key positions and some maturing talent coming through. There are plenty of reasons to be chipper. Or at least slightly less manic-depressive.

    On paper we have a very strong side. But everyone knows matches aren’t played on paper. And if they were, we’d probably fold late in the season.

    I have made a habit of creating some emotional insurance by picking whoever is playing against the Warriors in my work tipping competition; a silver lining in defeat.

    The logic has actually backfired as I’m doing much better in the competition and now have statistical evidence that my team have been poor for quite some time.

    If I sound conflicted, it’s because I am. Every year despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, I still believe.

    And there lies the frustration of being a Warriors fan; they do just enough to instil hope, but not confidence.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • March 20th 2017 @ 9:03am
      KenW said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      I can feel the pain (not really hidden) just behind those words but I still have to tell you I giggled throughout. I have a vague feeling that ‘Let’s gone Warriors’ has been done before but it still cracked me up.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 20th 2017 @ 10:26am
      steveng said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      Get rid of all the bludgers out of the Warriors and then they might have a chance. I think that most of the boys that went back home from Australia to play for the Warriors think that they are on a ‘Bludge Fest’ and with their lack luster attitude and performance(s) they really look like it.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 11:31am
      Aem said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

      The Kiwis have a world class prop rotation and a full set of outside backs that can do the basics of their positions.

      The Warriors do not.

      Kearney is trying to play a game that his squad isn’t suited to – not that it’s a squad with the right balance of quality players in the right positions anyway.

      And Issac Luke can/should go to the reserves until he starts putting in.

      There are some mitigating circumstances though – Matulino, Tuivasa-Sheck, Foran, Roache and Vatuvei (all genuine first XVII guys, most of them stars) have managed about 160 minutes between them so far this year. No team is going to succeed with that sort of injury toll. The only genuine first grade winger at the club, the alternate hooker, two star members of the spine and the best middle forward at the club.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 11:45am
        bronwyn perry said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

        leav the warriors alone they have lot’s of games to come back and I think manu should retie bease he go off he always getting hurt

    • March 20th 2017 @ 11:55am
      Glenn said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

      Warriors, when on and playing beautiful ad lib football, are everybody’s second favourite team. However todays version is not that, nearly all the players have gone backwards. Even Johnson, former golden boots winner, has gone from a very good player to a mediocre one. The only consistency in the team is their inconsistency.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 12:12pm
      GD66 said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

      I don’t know what the application or fitness levels might be there but on the rare occasion I have watched them in action over a number of years it appears the Warriors very seldom play to their potential for the entirety of a match, and are also very poor at coming from behind to chase down a win.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 12:21pm
      Realist1975 said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

      22 years – is that all. Try supporting Cronulla until the end of last year. I had to wait 30 years myself and was so glad I remained loyal. Warriors have lost 2 from 3 which really means nothing as premierships aren’t won at the beginning of the season. All they really have to do is win half their games and have some momentum heading into the finals. Foran will be a good buy but even he will take time to get use to their way of play. Just like the Tigers they need to learn to fight to win. Once again a major incorrect call (try allowed as opposed to a penalty etc) went against them and they bucked under the task. Honestly they get so many bad calls each year you think there is a conspiracy to make sure they don’t win the comp. remove some of those farcical calls they make the finals for a few of those years they missed out. Nevertheless constant media talk about how disappointing they are will not do anything for them. Instead of playing the ‘nice’coach they should have appointed a fighter like Geoff Toovey as their coach. But no they go and get a good past player with a failed NRL coaching record. Kearney being good for the kiwis doesn’t equal Kearney being good for the Warriors. They also stuffed up by getting Issac Luke. Luke may win you some games but in my opinion his absence in the GF was one reason Souths won it a couple of years back. I see that they are now after Taumalolo. Geez he wouldn’t play like he does for the cowboys if he ever decided to play for the Warriors. It would all become to comfortable for them. They need to be challenged but they also need a leader. Toovey would have been great for them as he would bring a no holds barred approach and every player would remember how he use to put his small body on the line every time he entered the field.

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