Well I am writing this post from my family abode in Auckland. Must say NZ has put on a fine show so far on our visit with sunny warm weather. Managed to make it to the far north for a couple of days at the beach location pictured on the right which will remain unamed and was fantastic. The recent performances by the Black Caps have also been out of this world!
Anyway quite a bit has been happening on the Warriors front and as I sit here sipping a Lion Red listening to the cicadas I feel that I am in ideal position to recap. In the first trial match the Warriors beat the Lions 64-4 - can't take too much from this result seeing as the Lions are basically a Warriors feeder/reserve/development team that have been included this year in the New South Wales Premier League and will play their home games as curtain-raisers to the Warriors - however a good result none the less.
The tallk of the media seems to be the amazing depth in the halves that Cleary now enjoys with the arrival at the Warriors of former rookie of the year contender Michael Witt on a one year contract. This guy could be a real diamond in the rough and another great buy by Cleary - if nothing else for his goal kicking.
I picked up a copy of Rugby League Week down at Lynnmall yesterday and it includes an article pointing out that in addition to the incumbent starting halves combination of Rovelli and Ropati, Cleary can now choose from Witt, Fien, and Hohaia with Gatis as a final option. This is awesome depth and Ropati will have to perform very well in the trials to keep his position with Witt a real threat to start at no. 6. Having guys like Fien and Hohaia (3 tries v Lions) in reserve is a great comfort as these guys are quality and an injury of some shape or form in the halves is inevitable.
However before I get too warm and fuzzy about RLW I do note they are picking the Warriors to come 12th in the NRL this year ahead of only the Panthers, Tigers, Roosters and Raiders. Sydney Morning Herald is picking Warriors to come 10th. If either of these picks were the case I think it would be a tremendous dissppointment considering that the boys managed 10th last year in spite of the four point deduction. I think we can seriously expect improvement on last season and that would mean the lower ranks of the top eight at a minimum.
Warriors are travelling to Queensland for a trial against the Cowboys this Saturday night with Cleary set to start a near full strength side including captain Steve Price and vice-captain Ruben Wiki plus ex-Parramatta fullback Wade McKinnon, winger Manu Vatuvei, centre Simon Mannering, standoff Jerome Ropati, hooker Nathan Fien and back rower Micheal Luck. And just to make my day - Sione has been named in the Cowboys side to face the Warriors in their trial this Saturday. Awesome.