Everyone loves an underdog, and that sentiment cannot be expressed stronger than the displays of the proud and passionate New Zealand Warriors club in 2020.
If there was ever a team that was selfless in its duty to rugby league, the New Zealand Warriors would be sitting at the top right about now.
The sacrifices that all of the staff, players and families of this club have made to help the NRL continue are incredible.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck turning down an early flight home to continue to lead his team typifies that sacrifice. I take off my proverbial hat to everyone involved.
Congratulations on a fantastic season considering the duress that the club and playing group were under.
Everyone in rugby league took them up as their second team, and after watching them demolish my hapless Knights with glee, I was hoping that they would demolish the Sharks last weekend and make a run into the finals, but the wheels seemed to fall off with losses to the Eels, Raiders and Sharks.
Now that Nathan Brown has been announced as the coach for the Warriors going forward, I will be quite interested to see how they progress next year.
They have unearthed some great young players this year, and having signed Addin Fonua-Blake and Peta Hiku, there are promising signs.
As a Knights fan, I have seen the qualities that Nathan Brown brings as coach, and he seems to excel at rebuilding struggling clubs and signing marquee players. Hopefully this continues and he can sign more great players for their club.
I have always thought that the Warriors should hold a natural advantage, with a massive pool over there of talented young rugby union and rugby league kids.
The New Zealand players that feature in so many clubs are quite often highly talented, fast, strong and fearless.
I remember every time I watched the Warriors as a kid thinking that it was like watching forward after forward doing runs as their centres and wingers were so big, trampling all before them. Manu Vatuvei springs to mind as an example.
If they are forced to be situated in Australia again next season, the NRL should do absolutely everything it can to make the players as comfortable with families, regardless of cost. It’s the least they can do for these men.