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The Roar


What went wrong for the Warriors in 2019?

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Roar Rookie
28th August, 2019

It’s a tough gig being a Warriors supporter.

Every year starts out with so much promise – fans expecting to see a new and improved outfit with fresh new signings, new members on the coaching staff or young kids coming through the ranks looking like they could be the next big thing. But every year they’re left heartbroken come September after yet another lacklustre season where the squad didn’t deliver.

Don’t get me wrong, we did have our moments over the years. The Warriors took out the minor premiership in 2002 with the little general Stacey Jones leading our charge to feature in that year’s grand final, but ultimately lost to the Roosters 30-8 in a very one-sided affair where we never really fired a shot.

Then, in 2011, we finished sixth and got absolutely smashed in the first week of the finals, but were given a second chance and strung some great performances together off the back of rookie playmaker Shaun Johnson. We went through to the big dance only to lose to the Sea Eagles 24-10, where we showed some glimpses of hope at times but were beaten by a much stronger team in the end.

The last couple of weeks have shown just how big the gap is between the top teams and the Warriors – and I say top teams loosely as the Sharks have been quite up and down this year.

But once again our campaign was cut down prematurely and what slim chances we had of featuring in the business end came crashing down with a 42-16 drubbing handed to us by the Sharks – where our rookie playmaker from 2011 now plies his trade.

So what went wrong this year?

In 2018, the Warriors looked to be building nicely. Combinations were clicking, we won the first five games of the season, were only two points behind the minor premiers by season’s end, made our first appearance in the finals series for seven long years and had the Dally M player of the year in our captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, top try scorer in David Fusitu’a and even the Dally M substitute player of the year in Jazz Tevaga.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

(Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)


Off the back of all that, 2019 was primed to be our year. But the boys fell short and they fell hard.

Who is to blame for this very unremarkable year? I know we love to blame the refs, and granted there were some very questionable calls in several games this year that may have cost them some wins – games versus Melbourne and the Eels come to mind. But that does not explain why three of the past four weeks we have allowed the opposition to score 40 or more points.

Next, we turn to the coach. Stephen Kearney’s win ratio doesn’t inspire much confidence – as head coach at the Warriors he sits at a 42 per cent win record, but as head coach of the Eels it was even worse at 24 per cent. That said, he did coach the Kiwis to a 2008 World Cup victory – largely thanks to Wayne Bennett sitting next to him pulling the strings.

Cameron George – CEO of the Warriors – declared that “There are certainly some questions around the effort of certain players and performances throughout the year that will come under the microscope … If we feel people are not putting in, there is certainly no place in this environment for them, either on the field or off the field.”

Kearney took particular exception to what George said, saying “He is the CEO of the footy club. When we’re talking about the footy team and the effort of individuals, that’s my responsibility to make individuals aware of that.”


Entering into a war of words with your CEO for all the public to see is never a good idea no matter what environment you’re in. He’s your boss at the end of the day, might not want to get on the bad side of the guy who signs your paycheque – the saying ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’ comes swiftly to mind.

More to the point, maybe if you did your job the CEO wouldn’t have to step in and do it for you.

One massive call for this season was to let Shaun Johnson go with one year left on his contract. I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors but the Johnson fiasco was an absolute mess that was handled quite poorly considering he was such a big part of the Warriors setup.

To let him go when it looked like we finally had our spine clicking was baffling, to say the least. It probably put a sly smile on his face when it was his new team that officially ended the Warriors season.

Shaun Johnson

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Losing Johnson, in turn, opened up a fair bit of room in the salary cap, which the Warriors clearly did not take full advantage of. Recruitment has been poor and we can’t seem to lure any hard-nosed forwards to the club as we clearly lack a bit of punch up front.

We often found ourselves playing out-of-form players – was that lack of depth or was that the coaching staff making poor decisions? Is recruitment really that difficult? Poor record, under-achieving team and cold miserable weather – how is this not appealing?

But the coaches and recruiters aren’t out there on the field for 80 minutes slugging it out in one of the toughest competitions in the world. The players need to take a good hard look at themselves in the off season, or if George has his way they may find themselves on the outer.


A lot of it comes down to desire – just look at the Bulldogs in recent weeks. No real big names, just a lot of heart, putting in a full team effort and working hard for one another leading to four wins in a row – and six of the last eight when they were almost certainly headed for the wooden spoon.

We can certainly take a leaf out of their book, minus the trade out of Rhyse Martin to the Super League – he is a weapon and I don’t know how they let him go, or maybe that’s just my Super Coach team talking.

Looking on to 2020, I’m not to sure what to expect to be honest. Supporting the Warriors is not for the faint-hearted. It is a roller coaster ride that just never seems to stop, but I for one have strapped myself in for the long haul.

Glutton for punishment? Or just keeping the faith? You decide.