Thursday, July 15, 2010

Returning Troops a mixed blessing

Tate, Hohaia, Seymour and Locke are all fit to play against the Storm Saturday night. This is good news but is almost a disaster because they have to shift Ropati out of fullback and Brown back in to the second row when they have both played so well at fullback and centre respectively. Moon, Tupou (hand injury) and John (knee injury) dropped.

Sad to see Isaac John lost for the season as he has been something of a revelation but its great to have the experience of Seymour back in the side to partner Maloney.

The return of Tate, Locke and Hohaia I am just not sure about. Yes they are all quality experienced starters but we have to weigh that against the disruption to what has been a winning unit caused by their return. Cleary knows what he is doing however and there were some tired players after last weeks heroics so we have to bank that the freshness of the returning senior players can galvanise the side to lift against what will be a very challenging Storm side.

Am looking forward to the Storm game Saturday where I will be joining the Wellington Warrior at Mt Smart once more. My only worry is that the TAB has placed the Warriors as favourites for this match. That is never a good sign. Particularly when this is a full strength Storm side who smashed us last time we played them. We have to hope that pyshologically the Storm just aren't up for this game which will be played in the cold and wet at Mt Smart (forecast is rain for game time again).

I would say right now Maloney and Lewis Brown are battling for Warriors player of the year honours.

In transfer news it looks like Matai is keen to join the Warriors for next season so that should give us even more depth.

Everything is looking bright for the Warriors. Only problem is that it is at times like these that the wheels have in the past come off. Lets hope thats not the case this week!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Awesome defensive win

Well that was a big time win for the Warriors. With the ref putting them under seemingly endless repeat sets in their own red zone for the entire second half they managed to keep Penrith out. Nice work and its one win closer to the playoffs. With this kind of form we can start thinking about finishing in the top 6.

This setup with Brown in the centres and Ropati at the back is producing some great performances and some big wins. Isaac John looks like he may have a knee injury which should hopefully be covered by Seymour's return. As for Hohaia, I don't know if he is a starter right now, even if fit.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Great trio of wins for the Warriors now the run home

So three nice wins in a row for the Warriors. The most recent an awesome performance smashing of the Eels at Mt Smart in the pouring rain. I was there to watch and although I really like the view from the lower eastern its not much fun to sit in the continuous rain and cold for three hours.

I like Lewis Brown in the centres. I think he is a good option there to produce line breaks with his speed and power. He can also rotate into the middle for hit ups when required. There is alot of interchangeability developing in the squad. Born out of necessity due to the horrible run of injuries the team has suffered. When will Seymour return?

Anyway the Herald is pegging 30 pts as the cut off for the playoffs. I tend to think with the Storm out of the equation 28 points would be enough. Mid round we sit on 20 points. So either way we need 4 or 5 games out a remaining nine. Looking back on my earlier post 12 games out about the run home we have managed to win all three of our games so far. Nice. So the remaining games look like this:

Round 18 - Panthers - 2nd - (a)
Round 19 - Storm - 16th (=about 4th) -(h)
Round 20 - Rabbitohs - 7th - (a)
Round 21 - Titans - 5th - (h)
Round 22 - Sharks - 14th - (a)
Round 23 - Knights - 12th - (h)
Round 24 - Sea Eagles - 6th - (a)
Round 25 - Broncoes - 8th- (h)
Round 26 - Eels - 11th - (a)
This is looking feasible. We only have to win half or just over half our games. Sharks, Knights and Eels should be automatic wins if we are half way serious about a playoff run and can maintain consistency in our form with players returning from injury to inject some added firepower.

So thats leaves us looking for one or two more wins to lock in the playoffs. Today would be a great game if we could pick up a win it would put us into really serious contention. However its likely no more than a 50/50 proposition at best. I do think we can win two out of our four games v the Rabs, Titans, Sea Eagles and Broncoes. Any two will do.

I think the great thing about this years comp for the Warriors is none of the teams look that scary. The Storm on their day are terminators, but we don't have to worry about them this year. So that leaves what to my mind are marginal contenders in the likes of the Dragons, Panthers and Sea Eagles. If our squad was fit I think we are good enough to join a top four with those three teams. Other teams have had their moments, in particular Souths and the Tigers but none have really established consistency. This is the time of the season to do it and without wanting to get too excited if we play our cards right we could be this seasons Eels.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Warriors Bye - Great week for the All Whites

Well no Warriors this week. Great week for the All Whites drawing with Slovakia. England are not going to get out of their group they are so bad. And the Lakers won the NBA title. Again. However one thing I do like about the Lakers is Ron Artest. You have to love that psycho. Check out his post game press conference. Bro nice work to thank your psychiatrist in your postgame interview.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Great win for the Warriors after tight game in Newcastle

Nice work on the win tonight. Warriors squeaking home 32-24 over the Knights in Newcastle. Maloney, Vatuvei and Moon all putting in strong performances. Maloney kicked six from six goals which is sweet. However without wanting to cut him down unnecessarily many of those shots were from straight out in front.

Some shocking errors and ghastly defensive lapses made this game alot closer than it needed to be. Locke is turning into a major defensive liability. With that said the Knights looked good on attack on the wing but pretty poor throughout most other facets of the game.

Andrew Johns - OMG- how many PR howlers can the Johns brothers generate in one lifetime? These guys are a shocker on so many levels. How do you reconcile Joeys talent for the game with his drug abuse and racism? Its not a good look for a game under pressure when one of the arguably greatest players ever and a massive media star has so little perception of how to behave in a public setting. Origin is intensively competitive but lets retain some self respect people.

This win basically keeps the Warriors alive in the competition. A bye this week and then they need six wins from eleven remaining games - starting with the Roosters in Christchurch. This is a nominal away game so lets hope the Cantabs can turn on a good home crowd atmosphere for the Warriors.

Am looking forward to the first of the All Whites games this week - should be alot of fun. As for England v USA - a good game to watch but England looking typically subdued and vulnerable. They have the talent - they just don't know how to combine it to deliver strong performances consistently. Capello is a great coach so I am hopeful of improvement. As for Robert Green - his name will live in infamy after one of the worst goal keeping errors of all time in a World Cup match.

Oh and cheers for the candid Queensland origin squad photos Ali - keep up the good work.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bros Icing Bros

I don't much like Smirnoff Ice, but I do like this game. Nice post on the NY times about it here. I want to see more of this in Auckland.

As for Warriors v Knights- I think its pretty even match up but the TAB has the boys as long dogs. Guess its the second string halves combination and the absence of Tate. However the Warriors need the win pretty bad.

Its hard to retain focus on the NRL with the World Cup kicking off this weekend but more sport is good.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Second half of the season

Good game vs St George in dire rainy conditions. A really strong effort from the boys but just too much dropped ball against a pretty classy side. Pity about the result and a pity about Tate's jaw putting him out for the season. So we face the remainder of the season, and next season, without Tate and Price.

Vatuvei came through the game fit and Mannering is fit and solid. So this is good news. Isaac John put in a good performance and Seymour will be fit and back in the side eventually. I am banking on Seymour returning in time for the Warriors v Eels on 4 July (round 17) - when I will be in attendance at Mt Smart once again. Lets hope the weather is a bit better then.

Before then we have to face the Knights away next up (rnd 14) followed by a bye week (round 15) and then the Roosters away (round 16). Right now we sit 11th - 2pts outside the eight with one game left in the round).

So with only 12 games left to play - lets have a quick look ahead to the countdown to oblivion. I estimate that with the storm out of the picture this year we need only at least 28 points to make the playoffs. Right now we have 12 points with a bye in hand - so that will give us 14 points. So we need a further 14 points, or seven wins at least out of our last 12 games - to make the playoffs.

Our run home looks like this (table positions are as of right now with one game left in the round):

Round 14 - Knights - 12th - (a)
Round 15 - bye
Round 16 - Roosters - 9th - (a)
Round 17 - Eels - 8th - (h)
Round 18 - Panthers - 2nd - (a)
Round 19 - Storm - 16th (=1st) -(h)
Round 20 - Rabbitohs - 6th - (a)
Round 21 - Titans - 5th - (h)
Round 22 - Sharks - 13th - (a)
Round 23 - Knights - 12th - (h)
Round 24 - Sea Eagles - 3rd - (a)
Round 25 - Broncoes - 7th- (h)
Round 26 - Eels - 8th - (a)

So of all these teams only the Knights and Sharks are placed lower than us in the table. Fortunately we get to play the Knights twice. So we have to beat them both times to stand a chance. We also likely have to beat the Roosters so we need our next two games to be wins.

So lets say we can beat the Knights twice, and get wins against the Sharks and Roosters, thats four wins in hand - we need to find three more - looks tough as we have to play the improving Eels twice as well as the 2nd place Panthers, the 3rd place Sea Eagles, 5th place Titans and the Storm, again.

I would say Broncoes and Rabbits are winnable - so that means we need at least one more win and Titans at home is where I am going to hang my hat. Although splitting our games with the Eels would also help.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Dragons are a scary prospect

I am very worried about the Warriors prospects this weekend. Seymour will not be playing and will be out another 4 weeks with a minor fracture. This means we will be starting Maloney and Isaac John in the halves up against the best team in the competition. This is far from ideal.

On the flip side Mannering, Luck and Vatuvei will all start. This should give us some hope.

Considering the pulverisation the team received last week at the hands of the Tigers I am keeping my expectations extremely low.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New look Warriors side next year

Well that loss to the Tigers was so bad I am going to pretend that it didn't happen. Seymour's injury is apparently not serious (knee bruise) so hopefully next week we will have Maloney and Seymour both starting and we need the direction. We also need Vatuvei back pretty desperately to add some strike power.

I don't think this season is a total write off yet but its starting to look like the end of an era at the Warriors. Price will be retired next season. Wade Mac has been sold. Tate is unlikely to re-sign with the Warriors as he wants to go back to Queensland.

This article discusses what kind of a hole this leaves in the Warriors team. In fact with the acquisition of Inu and Mateo - the Warriors have adequate cover at centre, prop and fullback.

So what to do with the gaping space in our salary cap. Acquire a megastar seems to be the undercurrent - a game breaking hooker for example. The fact the Storm are going to have to carry out a dramatic financial restructure means there may be some mega talent on the market and the Warriors are one of the few teams with the legitimate cap space (there will be more scrutiny next year after the Storm experience) to spend big. Names being suggested include Inglis and Cam Smith.

This article from the SMH touches on the same issues - with Melbourne Storm hardman Brett White being the name in the frame for the Warriors.

In addition apparently Price's heel situation continues to be so bad he is seeking second medical opinions from overseas specialists in a last ditch attempt to get on the field this year.

So what could a 2011 Warriors side look like - presuming no injuries. Lets start by assuming that they sign no one further.

1. Hohaia
2. Vatuvei
3. Ropati
4. Locke
5. Inu
6. Maloney
7. Seymour
8. Rapira
9. Packer
10. Heremaia
12. Mateo
13. Luck
14. Lillyman
15. Henderson
16. Ta'ai
17. Brown

And we actually have even more depth beyond this already. With the addition of a $400k plus megastar (Cam Smith anybody?) - this team could have serious potential in 2011 if it stays healthy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Seymour returns and Warriors win strong at home

Great win for the Warriors last night to halt the slide towards oblivion.

Watching those three losses in a row was hard to take. Injuries played there part with Seymour, Price, Mannering and Vatuvei missing - but the balance of the squad had some really bad performances. I have said it before and I will say it again - I don't mind losing. If I did, supporting the Warriors would be unbearable. But what I cannot accept and what this franchise should not accept from its players is utter and total capitulation. Those losses against the Storm, Panthers and Raiders were a progressive descent down the tubes with each loss worse than the last. This decline must be arrested as soon as possible and last night the signs were there that this ship can be turned around.

My guess is Price will not play at all this season. He might make a late season cameo or even suddenly become available for the playoffs but basically the team is going to have to manage without him. Mannering is due back next week but his injury must be pretty serious when you consider he basically has been out since incurring the injury eight weeks before round 1 (thats 18 weeks of recovery time and he is only now available?). Vatuvei limps off again last night and his injury looks bad as well. M and V may be both out for the bulk of the season at this rate.

So we are left with Seymour to provide leadership and direction to what has been looking a rudderless squad. And last night he showed that he can be that guy with the Warriors looking much more assured generally, taking a calmer less helter skelter approach and much better last tackle options.

Maloney looked much more comfortable partnering Seymour than having to manage the playmaking and kicking duties on his own.

My favourite player of the last few rounds and putting in another sterling performance last night - Ukama Tai. He is Mr Effective for the Warriors forward pack at present. Much improved performance by Locke as well and I thought Ropati also made a big contribution.

Interesting stories out there re Wade Mac. He has been dropped to reserve grade for the last two weeks. I still think he is probably worthy of the bench and he provides useful cover should yet more injuries in the back line occur. But he has clearly lost his spark after knee surgery. He is not the same player he was. Interestingly it appears Wade Mac and Price are two of the Warriors highest paid players. Price is going and if Wade Mac were to go as well this would leave a lot of cap open.

This brings me to the signings of Mateo and Inu. Both these players have the reputation of being freakishly talented but lacking in the hard work and application department. Cleary has to know this already and if he can draw the best out of them - these are fantastic additions to the squad. On the other hand the Warriors is a bad place to be for those who are less than true believers in the cause. Psychological fragility is this clubs calling card. We need players who work hard and never take a game off. Campion, Price, and Cleary are all examples of this. Toopi, Lau'atiti and Sione Faumuaina are all examples of fantastically talented players at the Warriors who just weren't mentally committed all the time for the good of the team. Sometimes these guys looked like they would rather be somewhere else. This is a culture and a mental outlook that needs to be ruthlessly avoided and I will be watching Mateo and Inu closely to see what their work ethic is like next year before I put my hopes on them being the saviours of the franchise.

And finally Lebron James James James James James. Another exit from the NBA playoffs. This time in pathetic fashion after the Cavs have been the NBAs dominant team for the entire season. Not good enough. Some serious soul searching is required. Iverson, Malone, Barkley, Ewing, Stockton - these were all great players. But no rings means they cannot hope to approach the status of Jordan/Kobe/Magic. Lebron needs to perform when it counts. You can't blame it all on him - after all its a team game. The organisation he chooses to join at this juncture of free agency needs to be structured around him to produce a winning unit. But the kind of capitulation we saw this week is unacceptable by the standards of performance he has demonstrated himself capable of many times before. Lebron has to ask himself - can he accept being just a super talented player but an overall loser like Tmac - or does he want to join the pantheon of the greatest of all time.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Yes that is the sound of the the Melbourne Storm imploding. Stripped of their 2007 and 2009 titles and basically disqualified from the 2010 season. These guys are screwed after systematically scheming to bypass the salary cap for years.

To cap it off we will be playing them this weekend. Unscripted drama. It surely cannot hurt the Warriors chances.

In other news Clinton "toops" Toopi has made the starting lineup for the Titans. But sorry toops you are way overshadowed by the most explosive penalty ever handed out for salary cap rorts.

Bye bye Storm your franchise is finished for the foreseeable future.

And if all that is not enough shocking news for you - Eric Watson has broken his back whilst ski-ing in Switzerland. He is apparently alive, not paralysed and should make a full recovery.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Injury crisis continues - Locke dropped

Well this injury crisis is like a cloud of volcanic ash that just
keeps on hanging around. When will we ever get to start Price,
Mannering, Vatuvei and Seymour at the same time. Luck and Ropati are
back but thats cold comfort as we head towards the storm. Locke has
been dropped, and lets face it he has been pretty poor the last few
weeks. At a minimum we need to be tough in defence. Its the only way
this team can survive right now.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Abysmal, ghastly, dire and embarrassing

Welcome back to the future. Penrith 40, Warriors 12 - at Mt Smart. The Yo yo Warriors are back in town. How bad was that performance? Well lets put it this way, Penrith did not even have to play that well to be up 22 nil inside of 20 minutes.

Too much dropped ball. Too many stupid mistakes. Too many poor last play options. Too many missed tackles. Not enough pride. You can't pin this on one player. This is the pent up result of all the top stars having been out for so many weeks. Its just not good enough. We need to some leadership back in the side asap.

Second half there were hints of a fight back but that got snuffed out pretty quickly.

The only good thing that happened today was Man U beating City to crawl back into the premier league title race after Chelsea's surprise loss to Spurs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Falling behind in a great season

Hey guys sorry I have been falling behind on the blog. We just moved house and the broadband only just got activated after almost 3 weeks! A real pain but at least now I am back online and MySky is in effect so its all good from here on in.

And how good is this Warriors season shaping up to be. I note the disappointing loss to Manly - which I attended at Mt Smart. Good fun and really tight game. An arm wrestle. Lack of strike power was notable in the absence of Vatuvei. Tupou showed promise but he is not the finished article just yet. I sat in the Western stand and it was pretty cool but I think I like the Eastern stand better. Let me know your thoughts.

As for the game vs the Dogs - my goodness the NRL and the Warriors in particular deliver an entertaining product sometimes. What more could you ask for than tied at 24 in the final minute with a miracle try off a Lewis Brown kick to win the game for the boys. Unbelievable. Lewis Brown is a star in the making - and he is a great centre/2nd rower in the Mannering mould. And despite the no doubt excessive attention after a few hot performances - Maloney is starting to make me believe he is the real deal.

This team has a lot of potential, especially when you start considering the injury report. Its almost a whole team worth of players waiting in the wings. Cleary may end up with some real selection battles if these guys all get fit. For example when Seymour is fit how will he restructure a halves combo that seems quite effective at present? Moon looks most likely to be dropped but he shows some real signs of improvement as well. But what about the Hiho/WadeMac scenario. you can't drop Hohaia on current form so how do we put this jigsaw together if Seymour is good enough to start? Depth is a good thing so lets hope all these guys can be fit soon.

Tupou will start in place of Vatuvei this Sunday vs the Panthers at Mt Smart - he is a good prospect, but he is a long way from being the beast.

Injury Report

Steve Price - heel infection - ever? round 7?
Mannering - hamstring - round 7 maybe?
Vatuvei - hamstring - round 7 maybe?
Ropati - hamstring - round 7 maybe?
Seymour - broken thumb - round 9?
Michael Luck - broken right index finger - round 6
Henderson - knee injury - made it to the bench in round 5 and will be on the bench again in rnd 6
Sione Louisi - leg infection
Isaac John - foot
Shawn Johnson - ankle
Elijah Taylor - serious knee injury - maybe out till 2011

I also think at least one player - Locke - is carrying injuries that have not been openly admitted. In a recent interview he said that he was having problems with his shoulder rotator cuff - such that he had difficulty raising his arms to catch the high ball. I also wonder if he doesn't have a knee injury as well. His form has not been that great so far but he has alot of talent if he is fully fit.

This is Clearys team for the match v the Panthers this weekend - interesting to see him start WadeMac at fullback with Hohaia in the halves pushing Moon to the centres:


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Most entertaining Warriors game ever?

What can I say. I feel as if my brain has exploded. A 48-16 win for the Warriors away to the Broncoes at Suncorp stadium in front of 30,000 plus fans - most of whom seemed to be Warriors supporters. Most points ever conceded by Brisbane at Suncorp.

A hat trick of tries for Maloney who only narrowly missed out on a multi-game suspension in front of the judiciary mid-week. He also scored 28 total points matching Ivan Cleary's single game point scoring record for the Warriors. Maloney may never reach quite these heights again but he is a real find and more than just great cover whilst Seymour is injured.

After early tries to each of Vatuvei and Mannering both were lost to what look to be serious hamstring injuries after about 20 minutes. This is a major loss but the scale of the acheivement in the win overshadows these apparently serious injuries. The surviving Warriors players put in one of the all time great performances for the club and the jersey and the fans. Maloney was an obvious stand out but his points should not cause fans to ignore the strong performances right throughout the side with Tate, Hiho, McKinnon, Ropati and Locke in particular all contributing big time. The forwards were also solid for the whole game - Packer is a big unit.

What more is there to say - the physios will be working big time this week to try and field a side next week with players like Locke, WadeMac and Heremia also apparently injured during the game but playing on. No doubt there will be a drop off after such a spectacular result but as a fan you cannot ask for much more than this.

Amazing entertainment and spectacular play by the Warriors.

I am exhausted after watching that game - amazing to think the Broncoes led 16-14 shortly after halftime - that means the Warriors scored 34 unanswered points in the second half.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Halves crisis averted as Maloney found not guilty

Wow great news with Maloney being found not guilty by the judiciary of a dangerous throw vs Sharks.

This means Cleary is left with his second option at halfback available - as does not have to look further down the depth chart or restructure the team entirely. However it will be interesting to see how Hiho is used.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Warriors win big over Sharks at Mt Smart

Well first off - what a great game last night. The Warriors storming out of the blocks to go 16-0 up and despite wavering in the run in to halftime coming back strong to win the game 30-16.

Big bummer of the year is the thumb injury to Seymour that ruled him out of last nights match and may well see him out for 6-8 weeks. This is the nightmare come to fruition for the team because most opponents will be a lot harder to beat that the miserable Sharkies. As we saw last night with a number of conversions missed in his absence, Seymour is far and away the number one kicking option in addition to being critical at halfback. Without points from conversions we will have to score 1.5 times as many tries to end up in the same place. The Warriors concealed the Seymour injury in the leadup to last nights game in the hope it would throw off the Sharks gameplan. Thats all good but I was pretty disappointed to only find out as the teams ran onto the park that Seymour was not starting. There is a hint in this article from the SMH that maybe the thumb injury did not happen during last weeks game vs the Titans but in more controversial off-field circumstances - does anyone have anything on this?

I did however have a really good time attending the match last night. We decided to travel to and from the game by public transport which was a roll of the dice but it worked out ok. We started off with a bus from New Lynn bus depot. Thank goodness that place is about to be demolished, its even more desolate that I remember. The bus wound its way through Owairaka and 3 Kings before rocking up right outside the entrance to Gate C exactly on time. How convenient.

I have been away so long I have never sat in the new eastern stand and it was great, good facilities and seating. It was easy and quick to get beers and the view from the stand was excellent.

The match itself was great fun. Outside of a knockon from the initial kickoff - for the first 20 minutes or so the Warriors were utterly dominant and at 16-0 I thought maybe this was going to be a 50 point blowout win. The Warriors had a number of line breaks including a few great runs by Tate, Hiho, Locke and Lewis Brown who really impressed me all round. A couple of the line breaks happened right in front of our seats and seeing these guys chew up the metres with the entire Sharks pack chasing them was really fun to watch.

But then the dreaded pre-halftime drop off occurred with several soft tries being conceded. This collapse was so total that the Sharkies were able to climb all the way back to 16-14 at halftime and all the way to 16-16 with an early penalty in the second half.

A word has to be said about the quality of the refereeing. It was terrible. Please NRL can the Warriors get a game with a decent ref please? At one point a number of dodgy decisions stacked up (if there are two men in the tackle its a strip bro) to make it look at times like the officiating team had money on the Sharks.

So going into the second half the Warriors still had work to do but they managed to stabilise and dominate the second half through repeat sets, a low error rate and solid defending. The continuing bad refereeing decisions didn't help but the Warriors were assisted by the fact that the Sharks are ghastly. We can feel pretty happy that this is not the club we have to support. They are miserably pathetic. Trent Barrett had nothing.

Vatuvei was his usual powerhouse self - seemingly unstoppable from 10 out. However he needs to ensure he is not the channel through which soft tries are scored in his corner. This has happened two weeks in a row now. The Beast is a legend but in a similar vein to Lomu he needs to defend strong too. But don't get me wrong - he is a megastar right now and he does his work when needed - when he takes the ball up the middle he takes it with power.

There was some minor tension in the second half but the result was hardly in doubt and finally Rapira sealed the game with a barging try late on and it was all over.

So overall a good win that was well needed. The loss of Seymour is a real worry but we just have to move on and assess the alternatives in his absence. Maybe Hiho in the halves is an option? Not all teams we play will be as poor as the Sharks. Teams like the Dragons, Storm and Eels will not give up 16 point starts and will blow us off the park if we lapse like we have done in the late first half of the first two games.

It was really fun to be at Mt Smart - checking out the atmosphere and the various members of the Warriors entourage. Notable gear bag and water boys spotted during the game included Ruben Wiki, Ian Henderson and Jerry Seuseu. Steve Price was also a prominent presence on the sideline coming out at the end of the game to congratulate the team on a job well done. The word is that the 36 year old Price is in full training and may be in the starting line up for next weeks game away to the Broncoes. This is good news.

Feel free to place your comments on the game or anything I've said by clicking on the comments button below.

Lets hope the winning continues for the Warriors next week in a tough away game in Brisbane.

Only hours to go till season 2010 kicks off at Mt Smart

Not long now till the Warriors home game vs Sharks. I will be heading off to Mt Smart shortly.

Lots of articles in the various press today focussing on Mannering's first game of the season and first game as captain. We can expect alot of attention on him from the Sharks. Frankly he is not the key player for the Warriors in this game - his contribution is of course important as his leadership as captain but we need crisp energetic performances in the back line to win.

Seymour vs his old club should add a bit of spice and I would expect a) that the Sharks will try and smash him and b) that he will be amped to beat his old club. So an interesting sub-plot there. Seymour played well last week and kicked very well at goal - lets hope this continues.

To win this game the Warriors need to shut down Trent Barrett and maintain defensive concentration for the whole 80 minutes and in particular the last 10 of each half.

The TAB has the Warriors as shortening favourites in the live betting market ($1.42 as of right now) so lets hope thats right.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mannering back for first home game of 2010 vs Sharks

Well the first home game of the year looms against the Sharks at Mt Smart. This one has to be a must win game with the Sharks one of the few teams in the comp the pundits rank below the Warriors. Seymour up against his old club should be interesting - he will know many of the players well. In addition the Sharks now boast star power in the form of Trent Barrett who used to be awesome but is getting on a bit.

Anyway it shapes up as a very winnable game at home in front of the Mt Smart massive. TAB has the Warriors as firm favourites which is always a bit of a worry.

I have my tix for the 7.30pm kick off Saturday night (Eastern Stand Lower section 31) and I hope to see you all there. After the game I will post a match report and hopefully some candid photos.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Disappointing loss to Titans after strong start

Great to see the NRL finally kick off this weekend and to see the Warriors back on the field in DB Bitter style 1995 retro blue and green uniforms.

As for the game it was at times tough to watch, with tons of dropped ball by both teams, the Warriors bombing tries and ghastly and bizarre refereeing decisions.

The Warriors started strongly and looked fast, organised and well drilled in the early exchanges with some nice tight angled passing behind the ruck. The Titans on the other hand looked shaky and sloppy in the first 20 mins or so. A great lead up of slick passing and then a bit of luck led to the Warriors first try. Seymour and Heremia both looked good. The Warriors scored two unanswered tries to lead 12-0 - both came from Seymour kicks to the wing with one each caught by Vatuvei and Locke.

After the first 20mins the game started to deteriorate with the Titans regaining possession from the restart after the Warriors second try by way of a short Preston Campbell kick off (which the Warriors better learn to deal with) and turning it straight into points through a soft soft try that should never have been scored. That defensive lapse opened the chink in the Warriors that ultimately cost them the game.

The Warriors did manage one more try before half time with good play delivering 4 repeat sets in the red zone ultimately ending with Vatuvei finding himself all alone on the left wing with a clear run to the line. Seymour kicked the conversion -he made 3/3 on shots at goal. This guy's form is now effectively the arbiter of our season. At this point if the Warriors had held out to halftime without conceding they might have survived the game. Unfortunately they were far too soft and sloppy for that. The Titans managed a further soft try before halftime taking the score to 18-12 at the break.

In the second half the result looked inevitable. The Warriors were sluggish and error prone. The Titans weren't that much better but they looked like they had more energy and the skill level and speed of Prince and Campbell in particular really started to show through. Other Titans stars like Matt Rogers and Greg Bird made little impact.

The Warriors had a few chances, but blew them all with poor finishing. Two further Titans tries and it was game over.

Hard to know what Cleary will make of this. The Titans played poorly and still won. That is a signature of playoff teams. The Warriors on the other hand controlled much of the game, had tons of possession and still lost. That is very worrying.

So on the plus side - there is hope in the halves and Vatuvei and Locke had some good moments. On the downside - we need to see a lot more from Brent Tate and we need some more experience in the forwards - aka Mannering and Price. Luck looked lost at times and when the Warriors reached the red zone they looked a but disorganised. High kicks to the corners are effective - but you need to be able to score tries through clever passing through the middle as well.

Most importantly to have a hope of improvement the Warriors need to maintain the energy and zest with which they started the game for the whole match and crucially they need to maintain defensive concentration for the 10 minutes prior to halftime.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TAB odds on Warriors v Titans

The TAB has the Warriors as long underdogs, with the head to head win paying $3.30 for a Warriors win, and Titans $1.30. A 12 and under win for the Warriors is paying $4.50.

SMH pre-season power rankings are also now out - pretty predictable at the top,
1. Storm
2. Eels
3. Dogs
4. Dragons
5. Tigers
6. Titans

and at the other end of the scale

13. Newcastle
14. Raiders
15. Warriors
16. Sharls

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Warriors team named for round 1 clash with Titans

Cleary has named his first team for NRL season 2010 this afternoon. The team is as follows, with the big news being the fact that Mannering's hamstring will keep him out at least until round 2.

Michael Luck will be stand in captain. Hohaia starts at Fullback with Wade Mac on the bench and Maloney will start at standoff partnering Seymour in the halves.

Price and Henderson remain out with injuries.



I also just noticed that Clinton Toopi is on the Titans roster these days. He only signed this week in a shock comeback to the NRL. Its a crazy world. I am kind of surprised the Warriors did not sign him? Apparently he is on the bubble to make the starting lineup at the Titans but he could well be on the interchange bench for round 1.

Sydney Morning Herald and TAB rates Warriors as no hopers for 2010

Well the SMH have issued their predictions for the season. Picking the Warriors to come at best 13th and at worst 16th (wooden spooners).

The SMH likes the Storm as the stongest favourite with the top teams being the Eels, Tigers, Dogs and Dragons. Interestingly going into round1 Brad Walters is picking the Titans to win the minor premiership, placing a lot of weight on the recruitment of Gred Bird as discussed below.

The bookies also have no faith in the Warriors, The TAB puts the Warriors chances of winning the NRL title at $25 ahead of only the Sydney Roosters, Canberra, Newcastle and Cronulla. The Storm and Eels are joint favourites at $6.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sonny Bill Williams to play for the Warriors?

Well todays monster rumour is that discussions are underway to bring SBW back to the NRL to play for the Warriors.

This is pretty far fetched but apparently it would require paying off the Bulldogs in an amount of $1m to compensate them for the contract they still hold on SBW until 2013. Apprently Eric Watson is willing to pony up to bring SBW back.

This strikes me as bull because my guess is that SBW is using a Warriors bid as leverage with the NZRU to get them to pay big money to bring him to NZ as an All Black. SBW to the Warriors would be awesome as he is a mega-talent. But it would be a big gamble and would require mortgaging the entire salary cap in his favour. If he was injured seriously or did not perform - it could screw the club for multiple seasons.

In other Warriors news, CEO Wayne Scurrah is apparently fuming over the Titans decision to play their home game vs the Warriors this Sunday in their white away strip rather than in their home strip. The decision will mean the Warriors have to wear their black strips in super hot 1pm gametime Queensland temperatures which could lead to Warriors players over-heating. This seems like a storm in a tea cup. For one thing the home side is entitled to wear whatever they like and second the Warriors should consider having a third strip - e.g. striped black and silver - for such eventualities.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

One week to go till Warriors kick off vs Titans

Only 7 days to go until Season 2010 - Cleary Year V - kicks off for the Warriors away vs the Titans at Skilled Park. The game will be 4pm Sunday NZ time.

You can check out all the pre-game matchup details here. The Titans are not a super-elite club by any means but it will not be an easy game for the Warriors, they have lost their last three against the Titans and both the last two meetings at Skilled Park.

It is important for the Warriors to start the season strong with a few early wins to banish the pain of last years disappointment. The Warriors first 8 games are - Titans (a), Sharks (h) (tickets are already on sale), Broncoes (a), Manly (h), and Bulldogs (a), Panthers (h), Storm (a), Raiders (h). I am thinking that four wins out of those eight would be a good performance and anything else a bonus. The Titans game looks to be one of the more winnable matchups. Check the full Warriors season draw here.

Big questions remain throughout the side. Who will be first choice goalkicker? Is Mannering up to the captaincy? Can Wade Mac and Tate return to past form? How many games will Price actually manage? How best to use Hohaia? Can Seymour translate his pre-season form into consistent regular season performances as the playmaker of the side and avoid back sliding on his alcohol issues?

The Warriors last met the Titans at Mt Smart in Round 22 last year. In that game the Titans won 30-10. The Titans lost their last three games last year vs Manly, Brisbane and Paramatta. But those last two games were in the playoffs after the Titans finished 3rd for the year. They probably had designs on a run to the grand final but were knocked out by the fantastic Eels cinderella run to the grand final from 8th spot. In terms of regular season games the Titans have won four of their last five.

The Warriors on the other hand are coming off four losses out of their last five regular season matches - and finishing 14th overall for 2009.

Big story for the Titans this off-season is the controversial signing of former NSW Origin player Greg Bird. In February 2010 Bird was acquitted of allegations of physically assaulting a woman in a Sydney nightclub. Bird was previously sacked by Cronulla Sharks over allegations that he "glassed" his girlfriend Katie Milligan.

In August 2008, Bird, was accused of recklessly wounding his American girlfriend, Katie Milligan, following an early-morning drunken argument. She sustained a fractured eye-socket and damage to her eye but when the pair arrived at hospital they pointed the finger of blame at Bird’s flat-mate, Brent Watson. They claimed he had thrown a glass at Milligan – despite the fact Watson was actually out playing golf at the time. The pair refused to give statements to police at the time of the attack or in court when it came to trial, and Bird was found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 16 months in jail. He immediately appealed and was eventually cleared of all charges after convincing the court that Milligan’s drug usage had caused her to behave erratically and that he was only defending himself. The presiding judge labelled their web of lies “extremely foolish”. The Sharks had already cut their losses and released him in January 2009

Bird's deal with the Titans contains strict behavioural clauses after his recent quashed assualt charges. Bird is expected to partner Scott Prince at the Titans scrum base with Matt Rogers moving into the centres.

So no doubt this shapes up as a tough match - but they are all going to be hard. Lets hope the Warriors can put the puzzle together and win their first game for the pride of the club. And lets also be thankful that the Warriors in general actually behave pretty well as individuals and we don't have loads of assaults and drunken outbursts to deal with (barring the odd Sione Faumauina).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Warriors draw 16 all with Manly in final trial match at North Harbour

Well the Warriors have managed a 16 all draw with Manly in their final trial match tonight in great conditions at North Harbour Stadium.

Tate managed 45 minutes in total game time - a 22m and a 23m stint.

WadeMac came on at halftime at fullback replacing Hohaia who started at number 1.

The Warriors trailed 16-10 for much of the second half (those 10 points coming from tries to Vatuvei and Moon) and withstood sustained pressure from Manly, preventing them from scoring in the final 40 minutes. The Warriors then managed to come back with a try late on to new signing Jeremy Latimore under the posts. The try was converted to lock the scores at 16 and that was how the game ended. Of course in a real NRL game - there would have been golden point overtime to try and decide the game.

But a draw is a good result against a serious Manly side as the Warriors continue to build towards round 1. It looks like only Mannering, Henderson and Price remain doubtful as round 1 starters.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tate and McKinnon will play in trial match

Well after going through the motions with the team listed earlier in the week ommitting Tate and McKinnon, today its become clear that both will play and maybe start in the trial match vs Manly tonight.

Both present problems however in figuring how they will slot into the team named below. I figure one of Moon or Maloney goes to the bench and then Tate plays Centre. Then its a toss up as to whether Cleary starts McKinnon or Hohaia at fullback. If he goes for WadeMac then Hohaia could play some time at 6 - or he could just return to his faithful role as utility back substitute. Not his best role mind you - but one he has done plenty of before.

Great weather in the Auckland area at the moment so should be good conditions for the match at 5pm tonight. The game will be a full 40 minutes per half affair rather than the "summer heat" trial match format where there are four 20 minute quarters. Manly have said they are going to play a strong side - so this game should be a good measuring stick of where the Warriors are actually at as they look towards round 1.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cleary names strong side for final Manly trial match

Well Cleary has now released his team for the Manly trial match and its not that dissimilar from the guess best set out in the post below but still has some differences at centre. Basically because Tate is still not fit to play he doesn't even make the bench in the official squad list. However Cleary says while Brent Tate hasn’t been named in the squad it’s possible he will come into the line-up for his first outing since his second major knee injury in three seasons. So we will have to wait until game time to see if he really does lace up on Saturday. Mannering and WadeMc won't appear until round 1.


3 JOEL MOON - not Tate
6 JAMES MALONEY - not Moon - who is playing centre because Tate is still injured

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Injury worries

The Warriors are training this week towards their final trial match at North Harbour Stadium vs Manly. Cleary says he is going to field his best side against Manly - subject to fitness. Tickets for the trail are available from Ticketek and it will cost $15 for an adult. Through My Ticketek there is also a buy 3 get 2 free deal - so you can get 5 tickets for a total of $45 - thats only $9 each. Bummer about the match being at North Harbour through - what a hassle to get to the stadium! There are public transport options available but they will require alot of patience.

Lots of interesting selection choices to be made to find the best possible team out of the available players, particularly around the fullback area. Lets review the injured players to start:

Wade McKinnon (fullback) - ankle injury picked up during training for the last trial match in Cairns - apparently not serious but won't play this week - hopes to be fit for round 1
Steve Price- (prop) - still nursing "complications" following off-season heel surgery - no hope of a return any time in the imminent future
Mannering - (centre/2nd row/captain) - hamstring injury incurred in off-season sprint training - should be fit for round 1
Ian Henderson - (hooker) - knee strain - likely to be out until at least round three
Brent Tate - (centre) - recovering from knee reconstruction - probable against Manly in Saturday's trial match

Vautvei will be fit and available after completing his All-Star commitments.

So who do we have in the guess best 13 to play Manly taking into account of the injury situation.
1 - Fullback - Hohaia
2 - Right Wing - Locke
3 - Right Centre - Tate
4 - Left Centre - Ropati / Ah Van
5 - Left Wing - Vatuvei / Tupou
6 - Stand off - Moon
7 - Half Back - Seymour
8 - Prop - R. Packer
9 - Hooker - Heremia
10 - Prop - Rapira
11 - second row - Matulino
12 - second row - Brown
13 - loose/lock forward - Luck

There is of course the substitute bench - and quite a lot of rotation could be possible - throughout the squad.

Taking a look at Manly they have named a strong side to play in the trial this Saturday. Clearys official team sheet should be out later in the day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Warriors beat Cowboys in monsoon conditions for second 2010 trial match win

Another great trial win for the Warriors this week, beating the Cowboys 28-6 in Cairns in monsoon conditions. The Cowboys did not seem to be able to deliver much on attack in the wet and the Warriors scored three tries late on to blow the score out a bit. Headline of the game - "Cowboys hung out to dry in wet paddock". The Warriors were still not able to field their strongest line up with Price, Tate, WadeMc, Mannering and Vatuvei playing no part in the game.

However an encouraging result- although as always lets exercise caution in reading too much into these trial results. They are meaningless games where coaches experiment - and don't typically field their strongest teams or play to win at all costs. In particular the Cowboys did not play their star playmaker Jonathan Thurston.

Some of the media coverage of the trial match has focussed on big Willie Mason's first appearance for the Cowboys however it seems to have been a bit of a non-event. In fact Mason made only a cameo appearance in the first grade trial after also playing for the Cowboys reserve grade side in the curtain raiser (and having to travel to Cairns by bus after the first grade team had flown in - boo hoo).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Warriors win big in Rotorua trial

Well sorry guys I have not made it to Roto tonight for the trial. So no first hand info this time I am afraid. But, as Seymour would say, next time will be different.

On the plus side after putting the team through what Cleary has called their most rigorous off-season training program ever, the Warriors have won strongly, beating the Roosters 26-8.

The Herald managed a big feature on the Warriors halves options today. Worth a look at the graphic on the actual hard copy of the paper if you haven't seen this Saturdays (13 Feb) paper yet - its page B18. Basically it looks like Seymour as first choice and then a question of who will pair with him out of Isaac John (21), Joel Moon (21), James Maloney (23) and Shaun Johnson (19). The young guys all looking promising but it looks like Moon and Seymour will be the starting combo.

With that in mind lets not forget about Seymour's past troubles with alcohol and while I am in no doubt that he has the talent to be the playmaker he has to stay on the wagon. So any info or photos or spottings of Seymour on the town or in bars or hotels would be worth letting us all know about. I don't want to be too hard on Seymour, we all like a drink and he had a good game in the trial today apparently - his first game for the Warriors and his first top flight outing for eight months or so.

On the captaincy front in the absence of Mannering - Seymour actually captained the side in tonights trial on debut for the club. An interesting development and something we could see more of. While injured Mannering has been doing referee training courses to better understand how to hassle referees in his anticipated new role as captain. If Seymour emerges as a real captaincy option whilst Mannering and Price remain injured - are we going to have another round of the captaincy drama?

Alot of new exciting talent emerging at the Warriors this year and that could be the story of the season. In particular - outside of the young halves already mentioned - there is the development of Locke to watch. Also the new Vatuvei apparently in the form of the 19 year old Elijah Niko. This guy has a younger brother Kenny thats 106kg and wants to play second row. Um, thats big, and thats his younger bro.

Of course no Price or Tate in the trial either. They are on the mend but are not back yet. Interesting article also from the Herald re the Warriors being "fitter than they look". Weird title and a weird concept generally. Basically the idea is that it looks like all the stars are injured but that in fact its not that bad. Hmmm not sure I feel so confident. Price won't play round 1 - he's got an infection after off-season heel surgery. He is also 100 years old. Tate is coming off his second knee reconstruction in 3 seasons but will theoretically play at least one pre-season game and feels like he owes the Warriors a decent season. And Mannering should also be back soon. So I guess its not all that bad, but I would feel a lot better if these three were all match fit, training at full tilt and ready to run out in round 1.

The inaugural NRL All Star game was last night as well. I didn't actually watch the game but the Indigenous all stars won 16-12. I like the idea of an All-Star game but am not sure about the format. I guess they are trying to retain a distinction between this and what is the real All-Star competition - State of Origin. The worlds most elite rugby league competition.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mannering injured in preseason

Well seemingly the only Warriors news so far in 2010 is the announcement today that Simon Mannering has a hamstring injury incurred in pre-season sprint training.

This does not sound like the worlds most serious injury and Mannering should be back for round 1, however this is our captain we are talking about with the dumping of Price - so the question is who is the captain in the absence of Mannering? I doubt the team can turn back to Price in these circumstances - not after all the swirling political in-fighting that surrounded his demotion. So who is the alternative?

As an aside my sources say Mannering was recently spotted at new years in Nelson, and he is described as "lean but massive" (all those who were in Nelson for new years please feel free to provide more info). Sorry no better goss than that at this stage.
Before I go let me mention the first Warriors trial game for the year - Saturday Feb 13 in Rotorua vs the Roosters at Rotorua International Stadium. I will most likely be there and you should be there too. My intention is that now I am back on home soil I can be the eyes on the ground for those who can't make it. I will have my digital camera ready for those candid moments that the team don't normally publicise.

Finally let me just say I love United but I hate the Glazers.