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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

My 2015 Warriors Season Review

Well, I feel enough time has passed for me to be able to look back and review the Vodafone Warriors 2015 season.
Now this is all just my view an opinion and since I have not done this sort of thing before I think the way I will do it is to start with my opinion on the season as a whole followed on then by my positives from the season, my negatives from the season and then finish it off with my top three Warriors for the season as well as my 3 biggest letdowns for the season (Again all just my opinion).
So let’s get into it.

My take on 2015

Before the season started, I felt confident that the Warriors would finally get back into playoff football and even though they did not go through and win the Auckland Nines I saw enough from the team to think they had the goods.
Sam Tomkins looked like he was finally getting into the NRL Groove (bar starting the Nines tournament later due to illness), Ryan Hoffman and Bodene Thompson both looked solid, and Solomona Kata crashed onto the scene and gave the Warriors another strong attacking option.

All the confidence I had in the team took a hit with a first round loss to the Newcastle Knights, they followed that loss with inconsistency as they alternated between wins and losses until round 15.
From Round 15 the media hype and fan confidence started to come back as the Warriors put wins back to back (As well as a well-timed bye round) over the Gold Coast Titans, Canberra Raiders and Melbourne Storm (The infamous Nathan Friend back flip try game).
This put the Warriors into fourth place, and they were on the way to the playoffs until the next round when reality came knocking with a 24-0 loss to the Sydney Roosters.
This loss was the beginning of the end as the Warriors lost their remaining eight games of the season almost running the risk of winning the Wooden Spoon for the first time in the team’s history.
Yes, injuries did hit the Warriors hard, in round 25 alone they had eight top tier players out with injury including Shaun Johnson who at times was the only spark on attack, but looking at the stats they were not performing.
The Warriors finished the season with 268 errors which was the third worst in the competition, they were also third worst in the competition for completions.
If you are making that many errors and cannot complete your sets, you will not be playing finals football.
This season was a failure, and they showed that although they have exciting talent coming through the lower grades that talent is no good unless you fine tune the basics.
In saying that though the young talent can learn from this season and hopefully it makes them better in the long term.

My positives from the season

Not too many positives in my opinion except for the young talent that came through.
Solomona Kata, Tuimoala Lolohea, Sam Lisone and Albert Vete all came into the side and held their own with the big boys, and I believe all four of these players will be significant contributors to this team for the foreseeable future.

My Negatives for the season

Well, where do I start?
The basics were not there, not completing sets, bad defence, silly last play options all equal poor performance.
You can have the most talented team in the world, but if you cannot keep hold of the ball, you will go nowhere fast.
I also feel in my opinion that there was not enough leadership in the team, with the number of rookies they had on the field the more experienced players needed to step up and lead this team and I just don’t think they did enough.

My top 3 Warriors for the season

Before I name my three players, I just want to mention players that were close to making my list.
Solomona Kata, Charlie Gubb, Mason Lino, Sam Lisone and Albert Vete.

3. Tuimoala Lolohea – This kid has a future in the NRL, he gave his all regardless of the position he was asked to fill, Fullback, Winger, Centre and Half, and he did his best no matter what.
I believe that he will eventually wind up pairing with Shaun Johnson in the halves in what could be the most exciting halves combination in the NRL.

2. Bodene Thompson – Now I can admit that when the Warriors announced Bodene as a signing, I was unsure what he would bring to the side in an already second-row abundant squad.
But Bodene brought some solid performances to the club, Hard no frills running, constant tackling and just simply hard grafting which the Warriors sorely need.

1. Ben Matulino – Once again Big Ben rose to the top of this team.
Offloads, Big Tackles and lots of metres every week.
We now come to expect this level of performance from Ben, and hopefully, the rest of the team will catch on and perform in the same manner.

My 3 Biggest Letdowns of the season

My unfortunate mentions for this category are Sebastine Ikahihifo, Chad Johnson (After Shaun’s injury) and Konrad Hurrell.

3. Sione Lousi – Sione just was not here this season in the games he played, simply put he was flat and lazy.

2. Sam Tomkins – Well after a pretty average performance last season a lot of fans were hoping that this season would be the break out season for Sam but alas he was not in any form worthy of the NRL.
Injuries did not help him but I was very disappointed that Sam did not come back from his injuries and have the impact we were expecting from him.
Also on a separate note Sam taking his toys and going home (or being homesick as he said) was a horrible way for his NRL career to end, but at least the silver lining in his exit is that the Warriors were able to sign Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

1. Simon Mannering (As a Captain) – First things first Simon is a great player and has played very consistently over the years for the Warriors.
My issue this year is that as a captain he was not on his game when I watched games where the Warriors were under the pump any footage of Simon in the huddle under the goal posts show him being silent.
Yes, he is meant to be the quiet follow me leader, but you need to find your voice and talk to your team, Simon!
If I were in charge, I would be giving the captain job to Ryan Hoffman or Issac Luke, respected players who are not afraid to talk.

In Summary

So, in summary, the Warriors started inconsistently, had a shot at playoffs and then fell off the wagon.
Inconsistency is something we as Warriors fans have come to expect from this team of late, but hopefully, 2016 will bring bigger or better things.

Stats – Played 24 matches, Won 9 matches, Lost 15 matches
             Home record – 5 wins, 7 losses
             Away record – 4 wins, 8 losses

With the 2015 season done I will start writing about the 2016 season developments, and then when the season starts again in February, I will start writing a weekly report reviewing the team performance each round.

Fingers crossed those will be happy reports.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Lack of Professionals?

A rather shocking comment was made recently by Jim Doyle when discussing recent coaching rumours at the Vodafone Warriors.
Jim advised that the Warriors problems are not the coaching (Which I agree with) or the club culture issue (I'm not sure I agree with that).
The problem is that in his opinion the Warriors currently only have five or six players that he deems professional enough to be NRL players in regards to their skills, attitudes and work ethic.

This actually is a horrible statistic, and if I had to pick the five or six players I guess I would say in my opinion (As I can only judge from what I can see on the field and in the media as I do not see them at training) the players most likely are...

1. Simon Mannering
2. Ryan Hoffman
3. Shaun Johnson
4. Nathan Friend
5. Jacob Lillyman
6. Manu Vatuvei

Now I could be wrong with this list, but these are the first six names that pop into my head.
Now with the current clean out of some of the squad, it appears that Jim Doyle and the rest of the Warriors Office are looking at getting rid of all the dead weight.
With the signings they have made for 2016 there are more professionals in Issac Luke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Blake Ashford and Jeff Robson.
In Issac and Roger you have two very talented Kiwi players who have been developed in Australia, and then Blake has also been established in the Australian programmes, these programmes instil a professionalism that perhaps we haven't been able to provide for our young players.
Lastly with the signing of Jeff Robson.
We have a bonafide veteran half, now yes he most likely will not be playing a lot of minutes in the Warriors top side but he will be there to pass on his experience and knowledge to not only our young players in general but also to our halves Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai and most importantly Tuimoala Lolohea.
If the 2015 season showed us anything, it was that if/when Thomas and more specifically Shaun get injured the halves fell apart.
Chad Townsend was having a good season up until Shaun's injury, then the pressure of being the key playmaker was on his shoulders, and he crumpled.
If the same thing happens next season having a player like Jeff would instil more confidence in me that this team can continue to perform.

In regards to the rest of the side, I hope that they have taken Jim's words on board and come into preseason training with the right attitude because Jim is showing that he is not running a charity if you do not meet the standards he has set for this club you need to look elsewhere.
A special mention is required from me to Konrad Hurrell, please do not come to pre-season training overweight again, you are my personal favourite player, and if you get your head in the game and show up fit and rearing to go, you will be back to being the centre teams genuinely fear to play.

I am always blindly optimistic when it comes to this team but management has compiled a great squad, and they can longer just hope to make the top eight, the Warriors need to entrench themselves as a consistent force in the NRL.

That's it for now, but I will be uploading my review of the 2015 season very soon so watch this space.