Todd Payten insists the Warriors don’t need a rebuild and claims likely successor Nathan Brown will take over a roster only a few big names short of being finals ready.
With the start of the NRL season every team looks forward to with high hopes but different levels of expectations, especially in terms of holding aloft the Provan-Summons Trophy in October.
For some teams a successful season would be making the top eight, for others the top four and for the Roosters, due to their back-to-back success, a premiership.
One team that everyone has already written off this season is the Warriors. With only Wayne Egan and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown joining from last year, the roster is very similar from 2019 which doesn’t inspire.
The draw for the Warriors is also particularly hard in that they have a tough start away at Newcastle and home (Eden Park) to play the Raiders.
Bookending the season, it finishes with three of the last four games away – Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles (home), Cowboys and Sharks. If the season is still alive we can assume they will stay in Australia for the Cronulla game.
Regardless of the draw you have to play what’s in front of you.
In addition, who knows how the other teams will be travelling by the time the Warriors play them, there is bound to be one or two teams who are top eight “certainties” who through injuries or poor form will be battling in 2020.
The Warriors do however have an upside that if it clicks, could be like 2018 again. A common misnomer about the Warriors is that they have a “big pack”. They haven’t had a big pack in years, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win.
What the Warriors do have is big outside backs, including Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu’a, Roger Tuivasa-Scheck among others.
Even with RTS expected to do less of this workload to ensure he is fresh to attack in the opposition half, and Fusitu’a moving into the centres, it should be expected that the Warriors outside backs will still do more than their fair share of hit-ups.
By using this tactic, it allows the forwards to focus more on ensuring their defence is solid. Adam Blair who came in for a lot of criticism last year (some justified), was still doing good defensive numbers even when not attacking.
The spine of the Warriors also has some real positives – RTS, Blake Green, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Egan (plus Kodi Nikorima) would be welcome at most teams.
With CHT now into his second season and showing promise at the end of 2019, with good service from dummy half the Warriors could show some real attacking prowess.
The Warriors play their best when they are brave with the ball (Raiders Round 25 last year), the key is to ensure they are at the right end of the football field when they do it.
The final wildcard for the Warriors is Tohu Harris. With Harris missing most of last season he is almost like a new signing.
The quality of Harris cannot be understated, especially as playing on the edge he can play like an extra playmaker, taking pressure off the halves, and attracting defenders with a dangerous offload, a full season for Harris would be a massive upside for the Warriors.
2020 could be like many seasons in the Warriors history – disappointing.
However along with the reasons above and some interesting signings such as Josh Curran and players due back from injury – Nathanial Roache and Jazz Tevaga, if the Warriors could manage to not lose any more players to season-ending injuries (!) 2020 could be a memorable one.