A lifetime of underachieving: How to fix the Warriors

Michael Biec Roar Rookie

By Michael Biec, Michael Biec is a Roar Rookie New author!

 , ,

30 Have your say

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve been hooked on the NRL.

    Growing up, I watched talents like Freddy Fitler and Joey Johns towards the back end of their careers. I watched the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Darren Lockyer, Billy Slater, Cam Smith, Greg Inglis and many others at the peak of their powers.

    Now I get the opportunity to watch the next crop of talents such as Nathan Cleary, James Tedesco and the Trbojevic brothers go at it.

    Over the years, few teams have had a lager talent pool, as well as so many promising stars, as the Warriors have. Unfortunately for me, I chose from a young age growing up in New Zealand that the Warriors would be my team.

    I can confidently say that sitting down and watching their games over the years has taken at least six months off of my life.

    I am however a firm believer that people should back their team through thick and thin. I believe that sometimes all the years of failure and underachieving means that when the day comes (hopefully) that the Warriors win the grand final, it will be a truly special moment, much like the Sharks’ grand final win last year and the Cowboys the year before.

    So why is it that the Warriors have fallen short for so long? Our roster is as strong as ever with players such as Shaun Johnson, Simon Mannering and David Fusitua. Combine that with our multiple marquee signings such as Ryan Hoffman, Roger Tuivasa Sheck, Issac Luke, Kieran Foran and it’s a real head scratcher as to why we haven’t been a top eight team since 2011, the same year we lost the grand final to Manly.

    The main area I believe the Warriors need to sort out if they are to win a premiership is a quality five-eighth to work with Johnson. Look at what a huge difference Kieran Foran has made for us in attack this year.

    Kieran Foran New Zealand Warriors NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/David Rowland)

    Unfortunately though, Kieran will be going to his fourth club in four years in 2018, as he links up with his former mentor Des Hasler at the Bulldogs, with whom he won a premiership under, against the Warriors.

    So who do we get to replace him? Here are the current contenders, as well as a couple of off contract players that I think we should look into.

    Ata Hingano
    20 year old Ata Hingano is currently the first in line for a shot at first receiver after re-signing with the Warriors through until 2020. Ata has played a handful of first grade so far, debuting off the bench last year and starting the 2017 season as the starting half while Kieran Foran was suspended/injured.

    Personally, I am more than happy to give Ata the first crack at making the jersey his own. He’s come through their Holden Cup system and has been playing consistently in the Intrust Super Premiership (NSW cup) against grown men.

    He has shown enough in his limited time in first grade and I think it’s great for rugby league in New Zealand if we are developing a young half who could potentially go on to contribute well for the national side in the future.

    Ata will have a great opportunity in the coming weeks, with Kieran Foran looking likely to spend at least a week or two on the sidelines after picking up an injury in the win over the Titans. With the Origin period in full swing, the Warriors should start their mid season revival and Ata could be a major cog in achieving a finals push.

    Sadly, I just can’t see us making the eight this year, with at least ten teams being much more consistent than we are.

    Te Marie Martin
    With a singular Kiwis Test cap to his name already at the age of 21, Te Marie has been identified as a major target for the Warriors. Coming through the junior ranks at the Tigers and currently languishing in reserve grade and seemingly out of favour at he Panthers, Te Marie has been strongly linked with the Warriors.

    Te Marie has shown some amazing talent in his time in the NRL and I’d love to see him bring that to the Warriors. However, reports of of Penrith are that coach Anthony Griffin has concerns over Martin’s physicality. This isn’t what I want to hear, as the Warriors already have a lot of trouble in terms of physically maintaining a finals brand of football over the course of 80 minutes.

    I think we would be better off backing Hingano, but I wouldn’t mind the signing of Martin as sort of a second option to put pressure on the starting halves and give the club quality depth to cover for inevitable injuries throughout the season.

    James Maloney
    Rumours have been doing the rounds that the Warriors are one of many clubs keen to try and lure James Maloney to their club – and I couldn’t be happier. James is exactly what we need and he has been the missing link 100 per cent since he left the Warriors at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

    James has publicly stated that he feels he should be getting paid a lot more at the Sharks than his current contract. While I think contracts should be honoured and not be a joke like they currently are, but I can also see where Maloney is coming from.

    James Maloney of the Sharks

    (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

    When you see stars who haven’t accomplished a quarter of what James has done (Kayln Ponga, Ben Hunt, Daly Cherry-Evans) getting phenomenal contracts to sort them out for life, you wonder who will show Maloney the money. Football is a fickle sport and injuries and other circumstances can end a career just like that.

    At the end of the day players need to look after themselves and their family, because footy isn’t forever. Most players retire around 30 and play fewer than 100 games.

    I believe the Warriors should throw as much money as we possibly can and lure him over for three or four years. Give him stability in terms of the duration of his contract and give him plenty of money – maybe even topping it up each year as players like Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei finish their lengthy careers at the club.

    If there’s any player who can get us over the line when it matters most, it’s this man. Just look at what he’s done since he left the Warriors for greener pastures.

    Connor Watson
    Hailing from Dubbo in New South Wales, Connor is the only one on this list not currently in the Warriors sights. If we can’t land Maloney and if nobody can make the jersey their own through within the club, then I would put Connor Watson forward as a perfect signing.

    Capable of playing in the halves, fullback and at hooker, Connor is one of the next top talents in the NRL for sure. He won the MVP for player of the tournament at the Auckland Nines this year and showed at the back end of last year with the Roosters that he was an NRL ready starting half.

    With Luke Keary and Mitchell Pearce having the starting halves spots locked down at the Roosters, a couple of clubs have tried to lure Watson away mid season, but so far he has remained present at the Bondi venture.

    I love what I see from this kid in regards to his speed, his passing and his general decision making. The fact that he can cover for pretty much any injury in the back line makes him an extremely handy addition to the team. I also think it would continue somewhat of a trend for the Warriors in recent times in terms of having an up and coming Australian 5/8 to develop at the Warriors. Think James Maloney, Chad Townsend, Grant Rovelli, Nathan Fien and Harry Seijka.

    Anyway, that’s how I believe our halves pairing could be improved. I’m not sure whether this has been very good or not, as I’ve never written before but if anyone found it enjoyable, I am looking to follow up on this with realistic changes that the Warriors could make to their forwards in the quest for their maiden title.

    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (30)

    • Roar Guru

      June 13th 2017 @ 8:00am
      BigJ said | June 13th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      Well done mate! An excellent way to start your writing on the roar. I agree totally the Warriors are the biggest disappointment in the NRL and for no good reason. I agree with your thinking about Maloney being the solution because he is. Look at what he did at the Roosters and the Sharks two premierships in four seasons pretty dam impressive. It’s sad that Foran is heading back to his Sith Lord Des Hasler but he wants to be closer to his children and i understand that.
      Great way to start your career mate, keep it up and do yourself a favor dont do top ten lists theyll just age you. Ha ha .

    • June 13th 2017 @ 8:10am
      Oto shark said | June 13th 2017 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      For short term I reckon Maloney could be the better buy than the others you stated. as much as I believe that he is worth more, the sharks will be silly to let him go ,especially while he’s still under contract. Johnson will definitely need someone else running the show, and he will be the right man. I did enjoy the article and I stuck with the sharks through thick and thin for close to thirty years now.

    • June 13th 2017 @ 9:28am
      Mals said | June 13th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      “When you see stars who haven’t accomplished a quarter of what James has done (Kayln Ponga, Ben Hunt, Daly Cherry-Evans) getting phenomenal contracts to sort them out for life, you wonder who will show Maloney the money.”

      Why did you lump DCE in with this lot? He’s played for Australia & QLD, won a grand final in 2011 and received the Clive Churchill medal in a losing GF side in 2013.

    • Roar Guru

      June 13th 2017 @ 9:47am
      BigJ said | June 13th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Barely done anything since he signed that contract in 2014. Before he was great now he just limping with the occasional moments of brillance

      • June 13th 2017 @ 2:30pm
        Mals said | June 13th 2017 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

        You obviously haven’t watched him this season.

        • Roar Guru

          June 13th 2017 @ 5:23pm
          BigJ said | June 13th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

          Yeah this season he has improved but still not worth his paycheck

    • June 13th 2017 @ 12:08pm
      Aem said | June 13th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

      How to fix an underachieving Warriors side veers off into who should be the 6 next year? They’ve already got a very good 6 now, and it’s not really working.

      For the record, Maloney & Watson are absolutely no chance.. no point even listing them. Hingano should be the 6, has had a rough patch in the first half of this season, but is a prodigious talent and the most patiently developed young player in the club’s history. He’s going to be a superstar… it’s a matter of when, not if. Martin is also one hell of a player (forget Hook’s opinions.. this is a guy who took a LONG time to realise Ben Hunt was a half, then repeated the mistake with Matt Moylan – and rumour is TMM wasn’t dropped for on-field concerns anyway…).

      The Warriors need to cut the deadweight, and stop accepting mediocrity in their first grade team. First and foremost that means saying goodbye to Bodene Thompson. Secondly, Kata needs to either leave or drop into NSW cup until he learns the basics of playing centre (defense, draw and pass). Maumalo would have been in a similar boat to Kata (exciting athlete, doesn’t know the basics of his position / how to perform his role) until this year where he looks to be making some progress – but it’s a joke that he’s been a first grade regular during that process of learning the very basics of his position.. typical of the Warriors, really.

      They also need half a new forward pack. Harris & Pulu are coming on board, but they need at least 1 more middle to come in (preferably two) – and good quality. That’s even with Gavet stepping up to become the new forward leader. Vete/Lisone should continue to be on the fringe of the 17 until they step up and earn it, and unless more bodies come in that won’t happen, they’ll be regulars with little pressure on them. Particularly with the best prop prospect at the club (Toa Sipley) leaving after being ignored by first Cappy then Kearney.

      Finally, they need a coach. Kearney isn’t that man. He never was. All his success at international level came with either a) a dramatically superior roster or b) Wayne Bennett/Ivan Cleary on board. His time at Parra? They actually got worse during his tenure. And his signings drove the team into the ground for years afterwards. He accepts consistent mediocrity, apparently not having the wherewithal to make the ‘hard’ calls to move guys out who let their teammates down on a regular basis. He did it at Parra, and he’s doing it at the Warriors.

    • June 13th 2017 @ 12:33pm
      Kilgore Trout said | June 13th 2017 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

      Nice work Michael . The Warriors are a difficult subject . Shaun Johnson debuted for the Warriors mid season of 2011 and along side Maloney took the team to the Grand Final . An outstanding rookie season . He is an incredible talent no doubt but it was Maloney that did all the heavy lifting . It seems logical that putting Maloney with him again would reap benefits but as soon as any coach makes any kind of decision based on logic with this club it all ends up in tears . Martin and Hingano are both talented running , ball playing halves in the same style as Johnson but what they need is a proper organising halfback . If Johnson hasn’t learnt that craft by now he is probably never going to . They need someone else to run the team . Plain and simple . Just leave Johnson to do his brilliant , off the cuff thing whenever it moves him and buy a bona fide ,top quality , no frills , no nonsense halfback to get them into proper field position on a more regular basis . With Johnson outside him , that’s all he would have to do and ….. Viola ! Premierships a plenty .

    , ,