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Saturday, 27 February 2016

Nz Warriors 2016 Season preview – The Holy Trinity and in Hoffman we Trust

Image www.photosport.nz & www.warriors.kiwi
We are now a week away from the start of the 2016 Telstra Premiership.
The Nines have come and gone, the preseason matches are all over and it’s time for the real deal which also means it’s time for me to give my thoughts on how the Warriors will perform this season.
I’m going to break this review into sections regarding preseason results and news, signings, the squad, strengths, weaknesses and then final with my prediction.
Now this is all just my own thoughts and if you disagree that is fine, I would love this to start a discussion on here so if you have your own thoughts comment below and let me know.

Preseason News - In Hoffman we Trust
The Warriors lost the last 8 games of the 2015 season and failed to reach the playoffs for the fourth season in a row.
Rumours of Andrew McFadden being fired and Ivan Cleary returning were rife and as of writing this, they appear to still be just rumours.
If the Warriors fail to perform this season though I believe that this rumour may become true.

The Warriors had a bit of a mixed bag this preseason, they reached the final of the Nines before getting handed a 22-4 defeat from the Parramatta Eels.
They followed up the nines campaign with a 40-18 victory over the Gold Coast Titans and ended the preseason with a 46-10 loss against the St George Illawarra Dragons.
From what I was able to watch the Warriors showed a lot of promise but just let errors get in the way, Errors were a big problem last season so if they can reduce those they will be able to use the flair the possess and leave a lot of teams sweating.

Then Simon Mannering must have read my 2015 Season review on here because he has stepped down as Captain and Ryan Hoffman has been given the role, a role I thought he should have taken the moment he was signed.
I think this is more integral to the team’s performance this season than the formation of the Holy Trinity (More on that below).
Simon is a terrific player and will go down in the history books as one of the greatest Warriors players ever, but as a captain he left a lot to be desired, the Warriors need a vocal leader there was so many times when I was watching games and when the Warriors were huddled under the posts after being scored against Simon wasn’t talking he was just standing there, Ryan will bring a complete skill set as a leader much in the same vein as Steve Price.

Key Signings – The Holy Trinity is born
The Warriors took a journey to the bank vault and made some big signings; with the signings of Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck they now boast the Kiwis spine and arguably one of the top spines in the NRL.
This Holy Trinity of Shaun Johnson, Issac and Roger is a mouth-watering prospect and if these three can combine effectively the Warriors are going to rip teams apart but Issac and Roger have overshadowed the man I believe is the key signing this year in Jeff Robson.
Jeff is an experienced half and I think he is going to come in and lead this team around the park and free Shaun up to do all the amazing things that he is good at, a situation much like the pairing of Scott Prince and Benji Marshall or even the combination the Warriors use to have with Shaun and James Maloney.
I believe one of the key things the Warriors should do this year is taking some of the responsibilities of Shaun so he can just be Shaun, another thing they need to do is give the goal kicking duties to Issac.
As shown after his injury last season this team needs Shaun fit and firing and by freeing him up to use his flair it will do nothing but strengthen the Warriors chances of winning the Premiership.

2016 Squad
The Warriors 2016 squad is among the best in the NRL.
Big hardworking forwards like Ben Matulino are going to be key in getting to the go forward required to let the back line fire.
The depth is impressive with lots of players fighting for spots in the game day 17, as of today Andrew McFadden has even stated that he has not finalised his centres with Blake Ayshford, Konrad Hurrell, Tuimoala Lolohea and Solomone Kata all performing well at training.
In my opinion, Konrad needs to be there, he was overweight and unfit last season and it showed in his sub-par performances but he has arrived for the 2016 season in the best shape of his life and he needs to be rewarded for his hard work, but his defense can be lacking and this may open the door for Blake to take his spot.
Lolohea also has to be in the mix, he is simply too talented to not make the 17 the only question is what position he playing.

If I was selector this would be my 17
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck                      14. Thomas Leuluai
2. Tuimoala Lolohea                           15. Albert Vete
3. Konrad Hurrell                                16. Sam Lisone
4.Solomone Kata                               17. Ben Henry
5. Manu Vatuvei
6. Jeff Robson
7. Shaun Johnson
8. Jacob Lillyman
9. Issac Luke
10. Ben Matulino
11. Ryan Hoffman
12. Bodene Thompson
13. Simon Mannering

Strengths and Weaknesses
The most obvious strength is the attacking flair this team possesses, they can just about score from anywhere.
Strong forwards that can offload to dynamic runners leads to some exciting moments and make the Warriors a very hard team to beat when they are on.

The weaknesses are that when they are not on they can be brutally horrible to watch.
They were one of the top teams last year for errors and you cannot expect to be successful in the NRL if you make consistently make silly mistakes.
The defense can always be an issue; poor tackling and poor defensive positioning can cause headaches for the fans but Justin Morgan being brought into the coaching staff will help improve this facet of their game.

My 2016 Prediction
The Warriors have a really strong side this season and should finally get back into the playoff picture.
If they work on their weaknesses and that spine starts to fire on all cylinders then the Premiership can be theirs for the taking.
I think the Warriors will finish between 4 and 6 this season and make a long run into the playoffs, hopefully, they go all the way but I feel that this team will win the 2017 premiership after having a season together ironing out the kinks.

Now that is over and done with let’s bring on the season, I am going to do a write up of each Warriors performance throughout the year so a new piece will be up after Round 1.
If you like what I’m doing here please share this blog out with your friends and talk to me in the comments, I love this team and the NRL and I would love nothing more than to talk about the season with all of you.

Talk to you all again soon.