Today is goodbye.
No, not to Phil Gould, although he assures us his departure is on his terms, assuming those terms include ‘suddenly’ and ‘with a year to go on his contract’.
This is goodbye to the Warriors’ 2019 season. Six weeks in and it looks colder than Israel Folau’s employment prospects.
Let’s start with something positive. The jerseys are strong. They should sell well. Kudos to the marketing team, but unfortunately there’s no Dally M for prettiest strip.
Game one was impressive. Against the Bulldogs – the youngest side in the competition lacking star power as they battle salary cap mismanagement – the Warriors came out firing.
A good start. Maybe the loss of Shaun Johnson might not be as bad as predicted.
Cue a flogging at the hands of a rejuvenated Tigers outfit under Michael Maguire in Round 2, followed by an absolute pantsing from a weakened Manly side in Round 3.
Dreadful stuff from the Warriors. Completely outplayed, out-coached and out-styled by Dessie’s magnificent locks.
Seriously, he’s beauty and the beast rolled into one. Manly look like they’re being coached by the love child of Billy Ray Cyrus and Fabio.
But I digress.
Coach Stephen Kearney’s response was strong and immediate: dropping rookie half Adam Keighran. Someone had to go after 38 missed tackles and a 67 per cent completion rate, so it may as well be the young half trying to fill Johnson’s boots.
Luckily for the forwards, regardless of results or performance, Kearney’s refusal to entertain the thought that perhaps he may have erred is becoming legendary. He’s a modern-day captain of the Titanic, calmly stating that we just need to execute better between mouthfuls of water.
If only his team played with that much resolve they might win more often. Unfortunately for Kearney, the only thing they’ve executed so far is his hopes for the 2019 season.
Round 4 and the Warriors – steered around the park by young half Chanel Harris-Tavita, who’s still not Shaun Johnson either – ground out a solid win against the slowly improving Titans.
Reason for hope? Apparently not, if the work tipping competition is any sort of indicator. Out of 40 people including Warriors season ticket holders, not one picked them against the Bunnies.
With 20 minutes to go the Warriors were ahead 24-12. Typical. No one gives them a chance so they’ll bloody win, just to spite us.
But they didn’t. They coughed up 16 unanswered points in the last 20 minutes to lose. Ouch.
Kearney’s response? We didn’t execute… glug, glug. We didn’t close out the match… glug, splutter.
I’d be interested to see how Craig Bellamy or Wayne Bennett would react to another 67 per cent completion rate, with 11 errors and 35 missed tackles.
Kearney’s response was an unchanged forward pack for Round 6 against the depleted Cowboys. He could’ve at least sacked the halfback.
Surely a chance to get some confidence, playing possibly the weakest Cowboys outfit in years minus two of the greatest JTs of all time, Johnathan Thurston and Jason Taumalolo.
A 68 per cent completion rate saw the Warriors slump to a 17-10 loss.
Against the Bunnies, Kearney lamented a lack of support for his young half from senior players. It seemed unusual then that he removed Issac Luke before half-time, a genuine ball player who had started well with some deft kicks.
Already missing Blake Green for the match, Luke only returned in the 75th minute when the game was gone.
Instead, Kearney played Jazz Tevaga, a strong bench utility and occassional dummy half, and Nathaniel Roache, who was returning from a long injury lay-off.
Adam Blair was rightly criticised for his poor performance.
To Blair’s credit, he owned it, safe in the knowledge that Captain Kearney of the good ship SS Warriors wouldn’t drop him, despite attending the post-match press conference wearing a snorkel and mask.
The effort against Melbourne was an improvement, but a loss is still a loss.
OK, by now it’s clear I’m frustrated.
Maybe I’m overreacting. I’ve been told I’m prone to hyperbole.
But currently, the Warriors look no chance.
Last year David Fusitu’a was the competition’s leading try-scorer. This season he’s playing outside Solomone Kata and has been starved of the ball.
What’s the point of paying big bucks for a top-drawer winger if you don’t give him the ball?
It’s like kicking your only experienced halfback to the curb pre-season in a clumsy public spat, or paying a reported million dollars a season for a Kiwis captain who averages 61 metres and concedes a penalty every game.
But great news, Warriors fans – you can now purchase Warriors-branded snorkels and flippers in this season’s colours.
Please note, these are not refundable in September.