Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weight of expectations

Well two good trial wins for the Warriors so far including the most recent 32-28 win over the Cowboys at North Harbour in Albany. Almost 30,000 fans turning out to watch the two trial matches. Bookies placing Warriors fourth in the running for the NRL title this year. All the noises out of NZ seem to be predicting a massive year for the Warriors this season (including new high tech jerseys).

I too can sense the quality and enthusiasm coming out of the squad this year. But forgive me for being a spoilsport, lets temper our expectations. I have been here too many times before to get over-confident about this club. They have looked great on paper many times in the past and not delivered. Trial games are also virtually meaningless. So quiet and restrained optimism is my outlook for the early season games. I really hope for the best for the team and there is a groundswell of support for them out there and the return of Jones has got to help as he is an icon of the club and the sport.

In other team news Lauaki has been released and Eastwood may well get picked up in what seems like a player merry go round with the English Super League. Eastwood is one of several ex-NRL players signed by Super League clubs but prevented from playing because the British High Commission has refused work visas. A series of brain explosions and criminal convictions has left a number of brain dead players in limbo. Eastwood, 21, is a useful utility who played lock, five-eighths and centre for the Brisbane Broncos from 2005-08. He made the Kiwis under Brian McClennan and it was McClennan who enticed him to sign with Leeds Rhinos but, two games into the Super League season, there is no sign of the High Commission backing down on its decision, which relates to traffic offences.

And a strong squad has been named for the Warriors final trial vs the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday night.

Finally Leeds play Manly in the World Club Challenge in the UK this week. I can't tell you what a non-event this game is in the UK with a round of Champions League round of 16 matches, FA Cup replays and the Carling Cup final also on this week. The biggest story around this game is that Leeds Australian player Danny Buderus has torn cartilage in his knee so will miss the game.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Season preview

Well the Warriors have had an excellent win in their first trial down in Hamiltron vs the Storm

The win included a big contribution from many players young and old including Warriors legend Stacey Jones.

This season could well be a good one and if Cleary can harness the emotion swirling around this team and direct it into their play they could be an unstoppable force. With that said psychological fragility is the Warriors calling card and added emotional weight may hurt rather than help. So the question may be one of which will implode first, the Warriors season or the world financial system. I really hope the team can keep it together and deliver what we all know they are capable of. 

My hopes are for a top four finish with a definite home semi first up.

Also good news  to see Mannering has extended his contract until 2012, he is a great example of the Warriors bringing local young talent through. I have to say when I saw the headline "Mannering resigns with Warriors" I thought it meant he was quitting the team - but fortunately thats not the case. 

Sonny Fai Memorial Season

I have had difficulty knowing how to deal with the loss of Sonny Fai on this blog. 

It is an unmitigated tradgedy for someone so young and with such potential to be lost like this. I can assure you that even for those of us living outside NZ hearing the news and letting it sink in has been deeply upsetting. The team will carry his memory with them forever.

This is now the Sonny Fai Memorial Season and the Warriors will do him proud this year.