Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Clinton Toopi is leaving the Warriors at the end of the 2006 season to take up a contract with Leeds in the UK.

This is a pretty sad turn of events for yet another player who once shone at the Warriors but seems to have lost form lately. There was a breif moment in time when Toopi was considered if not the best, one of the best centres in the NRL.

As per usual Toops is not the only player heading for the exit door this year, several others including Webb and the Pedestrian are in negotiations.

In fact all this player turnover is really starting to get inside Cleary's head:

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Slippery Slope

Its hard to stay positive at times like these as another season gradually slips away down the sinkhole however one has to accept that the salary cap penalty was always going to take its toll and especially for a team as psychologically fragile as the Warriors.

I think it has been the case for years that the Warriors have had sufficient talent to consistently perform at a top 8 level but its all in the players heads whether they do so or not. For a while it seemed Daniel Anderson had figured out how to overcome this issue and the 2002 season stands as a testament to this. However one wonders looking at todays squad whether Cleary has a chance.

In fact glancing at the photo below of the minor premiership winning team the only survivors from the 2002 grand final team that I can spot in the current 2006 team are Guttenbeil, Koopu and Toopi. Hohaiha is still on contract but never seems to get any playing time these days. Why is this?

I do think Koopu has been long underated and shifting him to the centres seems like it is worth a shot:

Its also worth of note that Bones Byrne has lived up to his name breaking his arm in the first five minutes against the Sharks and is now out for eight weeks.

The Broncoes game could be an embaressment and I am bracing myself for an utter bath.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sharks 34 Warriors 20

Well I can't say its a new sensation. That realisation that despite all my hopes and dreams the warriors still suck a butt. The herald referred to fact that "the euphoria of the Warriors victory over 2005 champions Wests Tigers last weekend quickly dissipated " and I think thats about right. Build me up buttercup just to tear me down.

And big ups to canterbury weather for destroying the Super14 final, that kind of flatness needs some sort of explanation anyway. I just hope triumphalism doesn't run unrestrained through the streets of christchurch. I suggest relocating the Crusaders franchise to Dili, East Timor.

Watched the game in desperation hoping to see Hurricanes pull something out of the fog, I think the canes and the warriors have a lot in common in terms of unmet expectations however I beleive the canes were robbed by the conditions. Was a big day for me turning out at the Temple Walkabout at 8.30am Saturday only to find 300 kiwis already there drinking snakebites. Caught a bit of the Broncoes v doggies after the final and have to say the broncoes looked crisp and in control from the get go.

Bad news by the way, Webb is probably gone at the end of 2006 season, if I was him I would go to franchise that know how to win.

Warriors now need to win 10 from 12 to make the top eight, and if you honestly beleive that that is going to happen you are borderline delusional. Cleary called the performance against the sharks the "worst performance of the year" which clearly begs the question how can a team yo-yo from one end of the performance spectrum to the other in just one week. The Warriors desperately need some consistency.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Warriors v Sharks Preview

Whenever the Warriors play the Sharks I can't help but think of 2002 watching the semi-final where the Warriors knocked out the Sharks to make it to the grand final. It was certainly a special day - images of Motu Tony stripping the ball inside the Sharks 10 to score a try and Toopi sprinting 50m to score in the corner, these are warm memories that will remain for ever. However Tony has been axed and now Toopi is on the out so we had best move on and deal with the 2006 matchup.

You know having not watched any Sharks games this season before I sat down to write this I didn't even know who they had in their team anymore. My mind had immediately turned to David Peachey, but of course he is well gone by now and is playing in purgatory apparently at that well known international league powerhouse club - Widness Vikings:

>>>UPDATE: Peachey has this week been sacked by Widness Vikings and re-entered the NRL by signing up with Rabbitohs:

Unfortunately my suspicions were confirmed that the least likeable player in the NRL, Kimmorley is still running the Sharkys show. But I was suprised to note that both ex-Warriors stars Nigel Vagana and Gorillasanti will run out against the Warriors. Its funny how some things change but some things stay the same.

So here is the preview of the match:

Vatuvei is still harbouring a hamstring injury:

and Toddy Bones Byrne will start in his place.

Anyway as far as the game goes I would say it is the usual 50-50 with the Warriors a slight favourite in my book on the basis of recent form and the Latu scandal.

Where are they now

Another new feature that I hope will become a regular here is the follow up on ex-Warriors of note to see how they are going these days.

First up we have perennial fan fave Mark Tookey.

The question is where is he now? I'm sure you have all been missing him just a much as I have.

Tookster left the warriors in July 2004 and shifted breifly to the Castleford Tigers, who were then relegated. In September 2004 Tookey joined the then named London Broncoes along with a number of other ex-Warriors. The team has since been renamed London Harlequins and the Tookster is still plying his trade in heavyweight forward play.

Here is a breif bio on the Tookster:

Hailing from Sydney, Mark originally played for the Logan Brothers and Springwood junior clubs.
Upon turning professional Mark signed for the ill-fated South Queensland Crushers, playing in the same team alongside Steele Retchless and Mat Toshack.
After a two year spell with Parramatta in Sydney, Mark crossed the Tasman to join the New Zealand Warriors. It was at the Auckland based club that Mark fully confirmed his reputation as a tough, rampaging forward. Stocky and relatively short of stature, but with immense power, Mark certainly takes some stopping from close range, which in the process often creates space for other runners.
After a successful 2002 season in Auckland, culminating in a NRL Grand Final appearance, Mark’s opportunities at the Warriors became limited and in July 2004 he signed for Castleford Tigers.
Quickly becoming a firm favourite of the Tigers crowd, Mark’s performances helped give the Yorkshire side a big boost in their ultimately unsuccessful fight against relegation. Mark signed for London Broncos in September 2004.

Here is his current profile with the Harlequins, notable for his playing weight of 110kg:

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Brain Explosion of the Year - Latu

Well this could be a continuing feature - as the incidents come up over the course of the year we will consider these posts to be nominations and then maybe around the time of the Grand Final we can select - with your help - Brain explosion of the Year.

Without a doubt the first nominee is ex-warrior Latu - in case you missed it from what I can gather it is alleged that Tevita Latu, now playing for the Cronulla Sharks, went out after the weekends game against the Doggies, had a few drinks and ended up punching a 19 year girl in the face outside a service station. And all this after recovering from TB to emerge as a potential star at the hooking position for the Warriors.

Check the story here:,2106,3677189a10713,00.html

Then the consequences - sacked by Cronulla and an apparent lifetime ban from the NRL,2106,3677667a10713,00.html

Nigel Vagana thinks this is a little harsh -

Don't worry the NZRL will still have him -,2106,3678907a10713,00.html

Remember those charming Warriors development players - I do - "In 2003, three Auckland-based teenage rugby league players were jailed after a pregnant girl was beaten and kicked in the stomach to try and procure an abortion. Shaun Metcalf and Geoffrey Ruaporo were sentenced to 18 months in prison, while Kyle Donovan got a 15-month term." These guys are now playing Bartercard! What kind of an example is this.

Now I like Latu as much as the next guy - he is clearly talented - I was shocked when the Warriors released him - but do the NZRL really want to lock in the view (particularly in Australia) that they are bottom feeders of the worst kind willing to accept any player no matter how heinous their particular violent crimes. I mean do the NZRL have to maintain some kind of standards for the good of society - or is this just recognition, as the NZRL claim, that League has a role in rehabilitating these deviants?

And finally despite my self-righteous protestations - if the NZRL are going to let him play how about asking the NRL if the Warriors can do the rehab? - we could use Latu as a backup hooker.

Game of the Year

Although I did not have the pleasure of watching this game it seems that this could be one of those moments that will either sustain me through another season of mediocrity or actually mark something of a turning point for Cleary Year 1.

Warriors 34 - Tigers 12

Full match report:

Mannering putting in another solid performance and the boys seem to have basically hammered the opposition into submission with gang tackles and bruising defence. While smaller faster players are clearly becoming far more dominant in the NRL than they have been recently their small bodies do tend to break a lot easier when crushed by a large Warriors forward pack. It even seems that Guttenbeil "The Pedestrian" is actually playing well for a change. Rugby League Week even named him to team of the week. What a team that must be. I do not miss those hitups of his and would not be unhappy if he got the axe. Let me know your thoughts on this.

Overall I am delighted to see the Warriors deliver something on what we have to beleive is their untapped potential but they will need to win a significant number more in a row to have any shot at the top eight.

Price back in the squad this week - sharks disrupted by the Brain explosion of the year (see next post) - one has to have hope that the boys can pull out another win at Shark Park.

Warriors season recap

Hello and welcome

Let me temporarily put the stunning ("best of performance of the year") win over the Tigers aside and recap my views on the whole season so far - what some are calling Cleary Year 1:

Now that I am resident in London I wistfully log on to the internet when I wake up the day after each Warriors' game and let out seemingly the same sigh of disappointment each week. Why are they so bad? I see that Toopi has been dropped and that Mannering managed to score another try in his start against the Dragons. So this seems to bode well for the future - do they have Mannering on a long term deal? Can't say I was lying awake hoping they would extend Tony Martin and Rovelli but they seem to have done so anyway. As long as it is all part of the master plan I am ok with it.

Price is playing origin and I can't decide whether this is good or bad. Surely good that he continues to play at such a high level but at his age can his body really cope with origin duty? Whether Queensland win or lose (update: they lost) it will be the warriors who are left trying to heal his broken body while they continue to pay his exorbitant wages.

Finally if I allow myself to accept that this season is yet another lost cause for the warriors is there any hope for the future - are all these rookies Cleary is pulling out actually showing any signs that they can play at a top 8 level without their brains exploding?

A friend of mine - we shall call him Paul recently had this to say about the Warriors season (pre-Tigers blowout):

"this warriors team is the worst I have ever seen. sure they have been bad in the past but at least they would occassionally score freaky deaky tries and pull off amazing come from behind wins. Those days are gone. they are so boring. Not one player has any x factor. I think Cleary may become a good coach but the players he is choosing from make his task almost impossible. Rovelli looks a better half back option from Fein but then that wouldn't be hard. rovelli has just been signed for an extra 3 years. Toopi may finally have brain exploded himself right out of the warriors squad he is dropped this game and apparently is considering offers from england. mannering looks solid but not spectacular. still he's only about 19. the only hope for the warriors is if they find a miracle player from barter card or something. depressing isn't it."

Let the comments begin.....