Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Time to move on and focus on Panthers

Well I could bask in the joy and glory of the Warriors rampage for a few more days, tears in the Souths dressing room and all but I think it is time to move on, forget about it and focus on the Panthers.

Lets not get too congratulatory - Roosters are on now on the same points as us (although having suffered consecutive losses and without a points deduction) and are tearing themselves apart over how badly they have performed this season. So lets keep a level head here - Warriors are still in a dire position table wise but the mathematical possibility of an eigth playoff spot - and a consequent playoff matchup with the rampant Storm is what I am clinging too.

And don't think that I do not recognise that the Warriors having won three in a row are on a positive upswing - this definitely bodes well for next year - although the loss of Webb will bite us in the butt in due course.

On a favourable note looking towards this weekends game Warriors are able to field a near full strength side minus Price who is playing Origin, Sam Rapira coming in as his replacment. Panthers on the other hand lose key skill players Craig Gower and Rhys Wesser.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Warriors steamroll Rabbits

Well after crawling out of bed at 6.30am London time I have just given up my struggle to get a web radio feed of the Warriors v Souths match. What a mission - however I guess this matchup may not have game of the round appeal.

Anyway what I have managed to determine is that the Warriors having led 32-0 at halftime have won the match 66-0. This is total domination!

Nice work guys!

So a quick revision of the playoff math tells that the Warriors now need to win 7 of their remaining 9 games to make the eighth playoff spot with 28 points. Next up Panthers at home.

In addition Herald is reporting that the Warriors have "nailed down" 19 of the 25 spots in their squad for 2007.

England to play Ecuador in the round of 16 at 4pm today UK time. This is of course a massive game and another lacklustre performance even with a win will see the UK media tearing Sven and this England team apart.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Rabbitohs staring down the barrell

Hello all

Well my work week continues to cause me suffering however for those of you in the NZ/AUS timezone such thoughts are already well out of your mind as you enjoy your Friday drinks.

Anyway first of all let me have a couple of rants - the first is Lowe and the NZ rugby league media - in particular the Herald. If the Warriors lose the Herald just ignores them however if they win or even win two in a row the Herald gets all congratulatory and showers them with praise and coverage. Lowe thinks Cleary is some sort of genius now that he has stopped "tinkering" with team and has them running like a finely tuned vehicle in some sort of "my past life as a humble mechanic analogy" - lose the ghastly analogies dude you are a bandwagon jumper of the worst kind. The fishing analogy really got me going and this greyhound one pushed me to the edge of the windowsill.

My second rant is about the Webb salary cap saga - the Webb situation is demonstrative of a real Warriors problem that needs to be addressed. Webb is in some ways the ideal Warriors player - bought cheap and young while unknown - has a brain - and has delivered on his potential with quality performances well above his pay packet.

Unfortunately now that he is an established star the Warriors don't have the cap space to keep him because we are massively overpaying our superstar forward pack. I know Price and Wiki lay the platform and without them this team would likely be swinging in the wind but the management have really got themselves tied in a knot with the Price/Wiki massive salaries. This stuff needs to be planned for in advance you can't get into a win now lose later situation. The cap space to re-sign Webb should have been in the minds of management as soon as he became an established Warriors starter. Its difficult because UK superleague pays so much more but if we lose this guy at the crucial fullback position we are in real trouble. I recall how rudderless the Warriors looked for a while there at fullback after Cleary's departure as player - can we really face another phase like that while we find a decent Webb-Cleary style replacement?

I have been trying to do the math as to the Warriors cap situation and it is really hard as there is no public record of what anyone is getting paid so I have to guess - for example Webb seems to be expecting a contract well in excess of NZ$250k - what do you guess guys like Vatuvei and Mannering actually get paid - NZ$100-$150k? Cleary says the club are in a "development" phase and I like the sound of that but I don't know how you justify the price of the forward pack if this is really the strategy - maybe it is a case of "past management" having limited the options available.

On a bright note Warriors have secured the services of a pair of HUGE brothers from the Manawatu, - Russell Packer (16), a New Zealand Under-16 representative last year, is a 188cm 112kg prop, and Paora (18) is a 187cm 95kg second rower. Just read back over that sentence - Russel Packer is 112kg at age 16. That is a gigantic young man.

Rabs seem to also be on a spending and recruitment spree at present and the Crowe takover is in some ways reminsicent of the change in attitude and form that accompanied the Watson takeover at the Warriors. Dare I suggest the Rabs may be going places. Warriors need to keep an eye on this team this weekend as nothing less than a crushing victory will keep me and the seething masses satisfied.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Eric gives out free tickets again

You have to love the guy - he is giving away tickets again - this time to NZ passport holders in Sydney to attend the Warriors match v the Rabs. This is a good idea as Telstra can be a cavernous space when empty and the Warriors are balanced as per usual on a psychological knife edge. Lets hope some broke ass Kiwis in Sydney get along and enjoy the free tix.

Just to keep your scandal interest levels up apparently there is a culture of drink and drug abuse in the NRL.

And apparently there is talk that the NRL will do away with the June 30 "anti-tampering" deadline - this rule has always seemed like a crock to me anyway.

As an aside I see the Shaq/Wade Miami Heat have managed to win the NBA finals. Not the result I wanted to see, and clearly I am not the only one who doesn't like the Shaq/Heat style of play. Dwayne Wade may well give Lebron James a run for his money for who is the greater player of their generation. Lets hope they have a finals match up next season to put it to the true test. I as usual, am looking forward to this years NBA draft later this month- in some ways my favourite part of the season as its all potential with no annoying reality to interfere with the fanastical nature of talent evaluation. New star on the horizon for this year- Adam Morrison. Not your stereotypical NBA type by any means.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Can Warriors make it three in a row?

What a stunning result in the weekend - Warriors 30 to Knights 18. So convincing was the warriors victory that Andrew Johns was left to blame his own squad for their lack of effort and Knights coach Hagan was left clutching at straws to explain his teams recent loss of form.

This in spite of the NZ public failing to heed my advice and producing a tiny crowd turnout for the match. (NB> Haircut of the century in the photo to the right.)

Dare I say it the Warriors appear to have found the holy grail of the warriors rugby league quest - the ever elusive consistency - in the last three matches.

Cleary has named an unchanged side for the match v souths, lovely turn of phrase here - describing souths as a "potential banana skin opponent". Right on the money with that one - this is the type of game a typical Warriors side would drop off for and play ugly at the level of their dropkick opponents.

With that in mind I am getting excited here about the run in to the playoffs and it is a dangerous thing - particularly within the squad itself - a loss to the Rabbitohs and the season is over. The Warriors need a crushing and convincing victory this week to keep the momentum going. Lets keep it going boys - every match is a grand final! Would be great if the Warriors could get to their last games after the bye in round 20 with the breathing space of only having to win 4 of 6 of their final games instead of all 6 games. In order to acheive this the Warriors need to win the next four on the trot starting with the Rabs, then panthers, dogs and eels.

Interesting article in the herald re the Warriors salary cap dilemma re Webb. I will seek to analyse this cap situation in detail here on the blog when I have more time. The information I need is the estimated salaries of the entire squad - is anyone out there privy to such info? Or willing to have a crack?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Work is suckful

Don't you all just have those days where you are unhappy about your job. Well I am having one right now and was thinking of posting something about the Warriors except there is no news whatsoever.

Other than the Maroons pulling out a game 2 thrashing in Origin all that is on my horizon is work. Nice work Price - hope you are fit for Sunday's match v the Knights. Full strength Knights squad is going to be a tough ask for the boys this week lets hope for the best.

So to jump on a blind tangent for want of anything better to think about, I once read that Motu Tony's father's name was Tony Tony, and until now I don't think I beleived it could be true. If only his middle name was Tony as well. I always like Motu Tony I think someone in the NRL should give him another look. He is currently playing at Hull in the UK.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Positive thinking

Well I have to admit my speculation below that the Warriors can still make the playoffs is a little far fetched but the Warriors have got to maintain interest in the season somehow while the World Cup is on and a few more wins would at least lay a good platform for next season. Lets at least hope the Warriors can be spoilers and get up to 9th or 10th on the table. (NB: Do the ears look big in this photo to you?)

Anyway my big message to those of you in New Zealand is to get along and watch the boys play the Knights this weekend. Vodafone as part of their slightly farcical "one tribe" promotion are offering discount $10 tickets. Thats like £3.50 - the cost of a pint in London - get yourself down there to watch Price play his 250th NRL match.

Also have to give a very small barely noticeable shoutout to the Socceroos - stunning comeback victory.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Warriors 22 v Roosters 12

Hey I am delighted to see that the Warriors have managed to pull out a win against the Roosters. Nice work boys - Vatuvei with a storming performance. Webb asserting himself again as the player the Warriors must re-sign as soon as possible.

Even the Sydney Morning Herald was borderline positive in its recap of the match pointing out that but for the salary cap debacle and points deduction the Warriors would be sitting just outside the top eight. Another good point that those eagle eyed fans out there may already have noted is that the Warriors have a positive for and against differential - something they share with only the eight top teams.

I am of a mind to suggest that if the Warriors could just string together a few wins the end of the season could get really interesting - dare I say it and invoke 1995 - every game from now on is a grand final! If we estimate the Warriors need at least 28 points to make the playoffs, they are currrently on 8 points and will get two from their round 20 bye, so need to win at least nine further games out of the remaining eleven to stand any chance. They are due to play all of the top five teams so if we accept they can't win all of these then they will need to win three of these five games and all the others to qualify.

Remaining games (and current placing of opponents) are:
18/6 - Round 15 - Knights (3rd) - Home
25/6 - Round 16 - Rabbitohs (15th) - Away
30/6 - Round 17 - Panthers (12th) - Home
7/7 - Round 18 - Bulldogs (5th) - Away
14/7 - Round 19 - Eels (14th) - Home
21/7 - Round 20 - Bye
28/7 - Round 21 - Panthers (12th) - Away
4/8 - Round 22 - Sharks (4th) - Home
11/8 - Round 23 - Cowboys (8th) - Home
18/8 - Round 24 - Storm (1st) - Away
25/8 - Round 25 - Roosters (11th) - Home
1/9 - Round 26 - Broncoes (2nd) - Away

I also see that Misi Taulapapa has signed up with a development team for the Cowboys. This article is perhaps most notable for the admissions as to the nature of the incident that saw Misi dumped by the Warriors. Apparently a trip to the movies on a Friday night turned into an all night boozer bender with Misi appearing at training on Saturday a little worse for wear.

Friday, June 09, 2006

New Zealand Warriors v Roosters preview

A big hello to all the peeps out there. I must say the weather in London is looking up, the forecast is for 29 degrees this weekend. And what a giant weekend of sport we have before us, a veritable smorgasboard of sporting quality with the World Cup finals kicking off, the All Black season commencing with the Irish test, the NBA finals continuing (Dallas lead Miami 1-0) and of course let us not forget the brave and ever popular New Zealand Warriors matching up against the Roosters.

There seem to be two main storylines leading into this game, the first is that the Roosters have so many Origin stars in their squad (four) and injuries (five) that they are seriously depleted and are forced to play relatively untested young players at key positions. But lets not get ahead of ourselves, these youngsters are the same players Cleary is rushing to sign to the Warriors to add some depth and consistency to the squad. Although I note that Ricky Stewart is starting former Warrior Vince Mellars.

The other main talking point is that while Steve Price is out for this weeks game while on Origin duty, big Ruben Wiki has been cleared of foul play by the NRL judiciary after contesting his charge and will start.

This is a game the Warriors must win. If they cannot - and I beleive that is a distinct possibility - then I would suggest that the rest of the season is used as a virtual open trial for Bartercard stars to see if any of them can cut it at NRL level. The Warriors need to find more "Mr Effective" type players and sign them for as little as possible.

Ricky Stewart is a shrewd operator and these young Roosters players will no doubt be smart, well drilled and fit. I would suggest that to win the Warriors forwards need to smash the young halves and fullback as early and as often as possible. A loss in these circumstances woulc be a shattering blow for the club - please do not let it happen.

The other pressing concern is the need to re-sign Webb, as Graham Lowe has even managed to figure out Webb is out as close to a class player as the Warriors have on contract right now and if the Warriors let him go due to salary cap restraints they are morons.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Latu sentenced to jail

In a relatively shocking development Latu has been sentenced to 8 months jailtime for his foolhardy violent assault on a 19 year old woman in a Cronulla service station which has already seen him sacked from the Sharks and banned from the NRL. His sentence includes provision that he serve a minimum six months without parole.

Well that has to be about the harshest penalty handed out in history to a drunken sportsman for alcohol related assault. A few weeks ago I reported here on Latu's brain explosion of the year and having been given a sentence as harsh as this I think the rest of the NRL is going to have a hard time topping this one for this years brain explosion title.

This is a sad and pathetic story - here are the facts as stated in the courtroom:

"The court heard that, at 3.30am on Monday, May 22, Latu had gone to a BP garage at Kingsway, Cronulla, with some friends after attending a nightclub known as the 2230.
Ms Peninton had also been at the nightclub with a group of friends and had travelled to the service station.
Latu had been eating a bag of chips and was talking to a girlfriend of Ms Peninton who was sitting in a car, when Ms Peninton approached Latu and tried to engage him in a conversation.
A statement of police facts tendered to the court said that, when Latu ignored her, she said to him: "Well I was just trying to introduce myself ... I am not a groupie."
Latu continued to ignore her and threw a chip at her and then more chips into her friend's vehicle.
Ms Peninton had berated him for throwing chips into the vehicle, saying "you are just being a little shit".
Mr Clugston said that, according to the police evidence, Ms Peninton tried to remove the bag of chips from Latu's hands and in doing so, came into contact with his face.
Latu, who had the case brought forward to the court a week ahead of schedule, then punched her in the face causing her to fall onto her back and hit her head against a brick wall.
Mr Clugston said Ms Peninton lost two false fingernails and suffered a fractured nose as a result of the blow."

Latu - you are going to jail and will live in infamy for ever in NRL circles over a bag of chips.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Well it seems that a series of alcohol related incidents has led to Warriors sacking Misi Taulapapa. This young guy was signed to a two year extension only two months ago, in May 2006.

All that is being said publicly is that the final straw was an alcohol related incident 48 hours before the Brisbane game, and that this was a fourth incident following three formal warnings.

And before the exit door has even stopped rotating the Warriors have signed another young Australian, utility back Aidan Kirk, from the Roosters. Cleary moving quickly to bring in another of the players from the development team he successfully coached at the Roosters. Kirk will not join the Warriors until Cleary Year Two in 2007.

In a very telling quote Cleary states that "We need to build up our depth in a lot of positions and Aidan's versatility will help us to do that". In other words - "I look at the current squad list and cry myself to sleep over the lack of talent".

Also Wiki faces the distinct possibility of being out on suspension for six weeks - have to say I know Wiki is quality and provides a platform but at his age and with his disciplinary record he is not worth the money. He is too experienced to commit this sort of foul by accident. Play hard and play fair Rubes - don't be a fool, you have demerit points up the wing wang.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Broncoes wrapup

Well I have to admit I have not spent the weekend fretting over the Warriors as per usual. In fact I have just returned from sunny Geneva having watched the All Whites sustain a brave performance against insurmountable opposition. I think we can say that the level of football of the Brazilian starting eleven is on a level all of its own and that to lose four nil while having generated a number of viable scoring chances against the worlds best NZ can feel justifiably proud. I may even post some pics I took at the match.

Anyway despite the digression I see the Warriors managed a good effort in defeat against the Broncoes with the boys lifting as suggested below against benchmark opposition. I find interesting that both coaches commented on the fact that only two penalties were given in the entire match, one for each team. This seems very strange to me and I wonder whether this is Harrigon refereeing gone mad or just a new policy to create more scoring movements by tiring the teams out. Either way it seems that applying such an extreme policy can only lead to a game degenerating into cheating and thuggery. It is the job of the referees to strike a fine balance, keep the game and the players under control without ruining the flow of the play or determining the outcome. I would appreciate some input on this as it is no doubt a significant talking point amongst NRL fans.

Of course despite the improved effort it is yet another loss moving the warriors to a 4-8 record still in 14th place. The Warriors season is effectively over and I am now moved to consider what Cleary should do with the remaining games. Surely trying out new players and combinations is an option but this could ensure further losses that may ultimately cripple the clubs finances. Cleary needs to keep the home fans onside while recognising that it is all over for this year and developing the team for next season - you guess is as good as mine as to how he can actually manage this. So without wanting to state the totally obvious if Cleary Year Two is to be any improvement on year one (of course presuming there is a Cleary Year Two) then Cleary has to got to use the next weeks to unearth some more cheap, quality talent from somewhere, instill some mental toughness in his squad and win some games to keep the fans hopeful for next year.

Also any thoughts on Patrick Ah Van, is he a hope for the future? Also if anyone has info on the incident that saw him play in place of suspended Misi Taulapapa feel free to divulge it here.

Roosters next week who will be weakened by the absence of players on origin duty. Lets keep a positive attitude and hope for the best.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Objective analysis

Well as Lockyer and the Broncoes loom on the horizon I comfort myself with the thought that the Warriors have always tended to treat the Broncoes as a special case, as a game in which they lift their performance to match the team that has a been a benchmark for quality and consistency for so long. If this doesn't happen this week it could be dire.

On a slightly more constructive note I thought as Clearly Year one progresses it might useful to assess his performance as coach objectively in the context of the warriors past history.

I have prepared a quick spreadsheet charting essentially the win loss record of each coach/ownership/CEO combination in warriors history from 1995 - 2006. I note this is derived from data available online so if you spot any discrepancies let me know. The 2006 stats are to date.

Year Coach Owner CEO W L D Win % Table Playoffs
1995 Monie ARL Robson 13 9 0 59.09% 10th none
1996 Monie ARL Robson 10 11 1 45.45% 11th none
1997 Monie/Endacott ARL MacGowan 7 11 0 38.89% 7th none(SL)
1998 Graham Tainui+Lowe McKewen 9 15 0 37.50% 15th none
1999 Graham Tainui+Lowe McKewen 10 14 0 41.67% 11th none
2000 Graham Tainui/Watson McKewen 8 16 2 30.77% 13th none
2001 Anderson Watson Watson 12 12 2 46.15% 8th qualifying final
2002 Anderson Watson Watson 17 7 0 70.83% 1st grand final
2003 Anderson Watson Watson 15 9 0 62.50% 6th semi-final
2004 Anderson/Kemp Watson Watson 6 18 0 25.00% 14th none
2005 Kemp Watson Watson 10 14 0 41.67% 11th none
2006 Cleary Watson Scurrah 4 7 0 36.36% 14th none

Now the big news on glancing at this table is that in spite of the points deduction negatively impacting on Cleary's table position his win-loss percentage is the third worst of the warriors ever. What is also interesting is that the warriors have only ever had three seasons above a 50% win percentage - what ESPN would call - "a 500 team". I am slightly surprised to discover that the original 1995 warriors were a 500 team and in fact had the third best winning percentage - only topped by the 2002 and 2003 warrriors.