Once were Warriors: What’s wrong in Auckland?

Thomas Costigan Roar Rookie

By Thomas Costigan, Thomas Costigan is a Roar Rookie

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28 Have your say

    Another year has passed, and another blemish on the NRL that is the New Zealand Warriors.

    For years I’ve been struggling to figure why it is that the Warriors continue to disappoint and underperform during the NRL season. It’s been six long years since their last trip to the NRL Finals, where rookie Shaun Johnson led his side all the way to the grand final with his dazzling feet, only to fall short to perennial rugby league powerhouse, the Manly Warringah Sea-Eagles.

    From there, the future seemed bright. A team led by a talented rookie on the field, and a former player off the field in Ivan Cleary. But since the heroics of the 2011 season, the Warriors have failed to deliver on their promised potential.

    Like many pundits this year, I tipped the Warriors to make the finals and break their drought. I even tipped them to make the Top 4 (I know, how foolish of me). But how couldn’t you tip them based on that side?

    A fit and firing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returning from injury with the captain’s armband on, it seemed hope was alive. I mean, look at that spine. RTS, Foran, Johnson and Issac Luke. How could you bet against that? With all of his troubles in the past, I thought a Kieran Foran away from Sydney could guide the Warriors to a finals berth.

    Oh how naive I was.

    Left disappointed week in and week out, I struggle to find the underlying problem of this underachieving club.

    Jacob Saifiti, left, and Tyler Randell of the Newcastle Knights tackle Roger Tuivasa-Sheck of the Warriors

    (AAP Image/David Rowland)

    Journalist Paul Kent said the obvious problem with the Warriors is simply that there are too many New Zealanders in the side, with there soft development program hindering their performance, unable for them to tough it out in an 80-minute match.

    “The fundamental problem, and this will sound absurd, but there are too many Kiwis in the side”, Kent said on Fox Sports NRL 360 earlier this year.

    Leading New Zealand Herald columnist Dale Budge, enhanced Kent’s view and stated that it is through the poor development of their junior system that impacts their performance when they get to first grade.

    “Problem is the development has been terrible and that is the key reason why the Warriors haven’t enjoyed more success in recent years. The Warriors have been a development club that simply hasn’t spat out NRL-ready first graders, which is the key way to balance your roster and manage your salary cap.”

    However, this failing influx of recruiting and developing Kiwi players doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Already, the Warriors have signed Kiwi captain Adam Blair on a lucrative four-year, $2.4 million deal, while they have also signed Gerald Beale, Tohu Harris and Leivaha Pulu.

    With these signings, I just hope they do not fall into the same trend of former players who have gone to the Warriors and actually got worse.

    Matty Johns said this earlier this year on Triple M’s NRL Grill Team when asked what problems the Warriors face, “The worst rap a club can have is that when players go there, they get worse.”

    Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was one of the most damaging ball runners in the game at the end of 2015, winning the Dally M Fullback of the Year, and is now struggling to average 200m a game, where he did it with ease at the Roosters.

    Issac Luke was a force in the NRL, before his tenure at the Warriors left him being axed from the Kiwi side, while Ryan Hoffman was dropped from the NSW Blues team in 2016 after only spending a year at the Warriors.

    For the sake of the NRL and rugby league in general, we need the Warriors to become a consistent and challenging team, fighting for the Premiership. If we want the game to grow in New Zealand and compete with the All Blacks and rugby union, the Warriors need to lead the way and inspire the next generation of Kiwi superstars.

    What do you think Roarers?

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (28)

    • October 13th 2017 @ 12:20pm
      Pilferer said | October 13th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

      The problem is Auckland the blue’s are the same .
      Though they have improved.
      How many players in both codes who leave Auckland excell.

      • October 13th 2017 @ 6:08pm
        Sports Prophet said | October 13th 2017 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

        Yeah, Auckland and the Gold Coast. Two destinations any self respecting and ambitious, mid-late 20s, peak aged footballer of any code would never go to.

        Auckland Warriors have a Bro-fessional culture that even Graham Henry could assist with as a Warriors consultant. They come across as a comedy sideshow compared to the All Blacks.

        • October 15th 2017 @ 10:23pm
          Peter Phelps said | October 15th 2017 @ 10:23pm | ! Report

          Auckland should be a gold mine for Rugby League. The fact that it isn’t speaks much to the Warriors failings. It may be the culture (I suspect that it is) but what ever, the NRL needs to use its considerable influence accross the ditch before they become a serious basket case.

    • October 13th 2017 @ 1:27pm
      Craig Jamieson said | October 13th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

      It’s clearly an anatomical issue, small hearts and big heads.

    • October 13th 2017 @ 2:09pm
      Boz said | October 13th 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

      Sometimes I think having a second NZ team in the NRL would actually help the Warriors. For too long they’ve been the only show in town, and they seem to rest on their laurels a bit.

      • October 13th 2017 @ 2:58pm
        Oto shark said | October 13th 2017 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

        That’s what i also think, as they would then have a genuine rivalry for the whole club, not just players. They would naturally try to better each other and put pressure on everyone running the club to be the best in Nz.

        • October 14th 2017 @ 12:11am
          Pickett said | October 14th 2017 @ 12:11am | ! Report


        • Roar Guru

          October 16th 2017 @ 1:33pm
          Nat said | October 16th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

          Not a bad idea. Won’t happen anytime soon but a good rivalry lifts standards and a little less travel may not hurt either.

    • October 13th 2017 @ 3:16pm
      Daniel said | October 13th 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

      I agree with Pilferer – Auckland itself seems to be bad for footy players of any code right now.

      In some ways, I think the best thing for them would be if there were another New Zealand team added to the NRL – preferably a South Island side.

      That would serve as a point of contrast and create a great rivalry

    • October 13th 2017 @ 5:37pm
      republican said | October 13th 2017 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

      ……seriously, how many variations on this particular heading do Roarers have to bare?
      NZ should never have been gifted a place in our ‘domestic’ NRL, along with all other domestic leagues they have been afforded membership of.
      NZ will not reciprocate in terms of Union and for very good reasons, yet we continue to pander to them in this respect.
      Just a gentle reminder to those who support NZ exploiting our misguided benevolence; they are NOT part of Australia and for every Kiwi side integral to our domestic sporting culture, potential heartlands are being neglected. This ultimately compromises respective codes grassroots.
      NZ are more than capable of running there own domestic comps as a very affluent developed nation, while their sporting pedigree internationally, is far more impressive than ours considering their population, so they do not require support from us, unlike say PNG……….

    • October 13th 2017 @ 7:22pm
      Mike Julz said | October 13th 2017 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

      Haven’t you heard of the ‘bro culture’ they have?. And Kent was right, too much kiwis in it, especially islanders. They need smarts around the flyhalfs and leadership on both the forwards and the backs.
      I think someone like Bellamy or Bennett as a coach can completely turn this Warriors into a winning team.

      • October 13th 2017 @ 8:46pm
        Sylvester said | October 13th 2017 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

        Skin colour didn’t seem to be an issue in the two grand finals the Warriors made.
        As pointed out above, the forward pack is second rate (Mannering excluded). Lack of depth/experience in the halves was exposed when Johnson was injured.
        RTS was good this year but I think struggled with the added burden of captaincy.

      • October 15th 2017 @ 10:27pm
        Peter Phelps said | October 15th 2017 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

        I don’t think its a Bellamy / Bennett type of problem. Its more a leadership issue in my view. Need a real good leader in there who looks at the Warriors as a business and not as some sort of NZ ‘bikie’ club

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