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'I’m not out of ideas': Brown defends job after Warriors lose fifth on the spin

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4th June, 2022
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Nathan Brown has defended his position as head coach of the New Zealand Warriors after another horrendous performance that catapulted him to the top of the NRL sack race.

Manly heaped the pain on the Warriors with a crushing 44-12 win, built on the back of one of the worst first-half performances of the year from the Kiwis.

Brown insisted that he had not run out of ideas to turn things around, but admitted that each week, a new issue arose with his team that led to a defeat.

“Our biggest issue is that we have different problems, not the same problems,” said the coach.

“If we had the same problem (every week), it would be quite easy to fix, but we have different problems.

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“I’m not out of ideas. I think we’re training well, players are improving, but we’re not getting the same players on the same page on the same day. That’s not ideas, that’s what’s happening.

“I’ve been coaching a long time now, so I don’t coach on fear. All we can do is the best we can to do what we feel is right.

“I have been around too long to worry about that other stuff. I have had a long run in these chairs. You just keep doing what you think is right. You have to stick to it.

“We’d like to compete in every contest, and we have had a few of late where we haven’t competed well.”

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With no players missing to Origin and on a four-game losing streak, this was a weekend where Brown would have wished for a good performance: instead, his team served up one of their poorest of the year, especially in the first half.

The stats barely do the first 40 minutes justice: they lost the possession split 66/34 and Manly had 92 per cent of territory, with the Warriors only mustering four tackles in the Sea Eagles’ half.

The 24-0 scoreline flattered the visitors, and the manner of the tries, with at least three from unforgivably weak goal-line defence, was miles off expectations at NRL level.

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“Our first half was horrible and we can’t hide from that or offer any excuses,” said Brown.

“They had three tries where you might accept one, but not three.

“We train well during the week and, as a coach, the start to the game is important because you’re supposed to prepare your team to start well. I take a fair hit there.

“The coach’s job is to help you start well and then the player maintain the intensity. It’s disappointing and we can’t offer excuses.

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“Don’t get me wrong, Manly played well and they have good players, but they didn’t have Daly Cherry-Evans or Tom (Trbojevic) out there either. We can’t hide our disappointment.”

For Manly, this was a welcome return to winning ways after three defeats on the spin, admittedly tough fixtures with Brisbane, Parramatta and Melbourne away from home.

Jason Saab of the Sea Eagles runs the ball

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

“It’s been a challenging month,” said Des Hasler. “It was just good to get a win tonight. We realised it was important and it puts us back on course.

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“I feel like the effort around defence has been there even though they put 28 past us last week.

“Our duty of care with the ball allowed us to build a bit of pressure and field position. That will give the team confidence going forward.”

Haumole Olakau’atu was immense: he ran for 144m in under an hour, with 120 in the first half alone. Two fends, in particular, will live long in the memory – he will be hoping Brad Fittler tuned in from NSW camp.

Josh Schuster was rocks and diamonds in his first run at five-eighth this year, scoring a try and producing some trademark soft hands, but had more than his share of errors. There was likely enough in his performance for him to get another run during this period.

“Haumole has been pretty consistent over the course of the year, and for him to be talked about in Origin circles means that it’s been recognised. There’s three games in Origin so you never know.

“He (Schuster) has had a tough year, and I thought he performed well tonight. It’s the first time he’s played 80 minutes. It’s a renaissance season after a pretty bad start through injuries.”

It’s great when you can have players come in to fill what is an important position on the field. He’ll get a lot of confidence out of tonight.

The Warriors die was cast early, with the first of many very soft tries. The Sea Eagles manouevered into position and looked to spread to shape, only for Toafofoa Sipley to burrow in himself from a yard out.

Manly were enjoying themselves. They battered the Kiwis into submission, forcing Reece Walsh to kick from 25m out, and immediately set about their attack.

Reece Walsh of the Warriors

Reece Walsh (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Olakau’atu was having his own personal masterclass. He pulled out one of the fends of the season to dispatch Chanel Harris-Tevita and bounced Marcelo Montoya off in a tackle like a ball bouncing off a wall. In between, he was able to carry several Warriors with him to score.

Manly then took a penalty goal, and might have had a penalty try after Bunty Afoa held back Reuben Garrick.

Like everything for the Warriors, it ended up worse for them anyway: Afoa was binned, and Marty Taupau turned an innocuous hit up into four points. It was, by a distance, the softest try of the year so far.

Manly added another before parity was returned. Koula broke the line for a second time, and while he was eventually halted, the Sea Eaglues spread to the left for Josh Schuster to power his way in.

The Warriors decided to play a little more after the break. Manly began the scoring with a penalty goal, but with a 26-0 lead, failed to match their intensity and gradually ceded field position to their opponents.

Jack Murchie might have got his side on the board, catching a kick over the line, but was superbly denied by Morgan Harper. The lock did eventually get on the board, with Walsh putting him through a hole.

Despite having the majority of the ball and field position, the Warriors’ defensive woes continued. Harper was able to split them down the middle from inside his own half and send Garrick over with an inside ball.

Garrick would grab another – a scrappy one from a Lachlan Croker kick – before Bunty Afoa proved that Manly’s middle defence is also susceptible, crashing through under the sticks.

The Warriors could still shoot themselves in the foot. With two minutes remaining and on the search for consolation points, Walsh – who had struggled to find Dallin Watene-Zelezniak with long passes all night – finally found a winger.

Unfortunately for him, it was Jason Saab, who put a tin lid on the performance by running 95m to the line.

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