New Zealand Warriors
Record (W-L-D): 9-0-15
Top Pointscorer: Shaun Johnson (130 points)
Top Tryscorer: Solomone Kata (12 Tries)
The New Zealand Warriors will once again be cursing a rotten end to the NRL season after failing to make the eight again on the back of eight straight losses to end the season, condemning the previously high flying side to the lowly 13th spot.
The Warriors went through a positive spell mid season, highlighted by big wins over the Gold coast (36-14), Canberra (30-8) and Melbourne (28-14). The three game winning streak pushed the side to the verge of the top four, and the fans began to get excited.
Once again however it wasn’t to be. Finishing off seasons has been the Warriors’ key problem area since their last finals campaign in 2012, and 2015 proved no different. The side looked to be set in the top eight, only to find a way to fall out again. To their credit, they performed admirably in their final match of the season, going down late in heartbreaking fashion to the Finals bound Bulldogs. Aside from that round 26 match, the last two months can be considered nothing but a write off.
Once again, Shaun Johnson carried the New Zealand side, and his season ending injury (broken ankle) in round 20 all but ended the Warriors charge. Johnson is nothing short of a freak, perhaps highlighted by his try against the Cronulla Sharks in round nine, in which he beat no less than five players to steal the two points for his side. When the Warriors found their way to the try line it was on the back on Johnson. New Zealand lacked a player to take the pressure off their number seven, despite Chad Townsend performing strongly. Out wide, Solomone Kata was a revelation for the Warriors, becoming the club’s leading try scorer for 2015.
Townsend is now one of the players departing the club, the five eighth returning home to Cronulla. Alongside Townsend the club will also part with fullback Sam Tomkins, who, after an indifferent period in the NRL, will return to the super league. Hooker Nathan Friend is also making a return to former club Gold Coast Titans, while Sam Rapira caps off the big name movements as he heads to super league’s Huddersfield Giants.
While they lose some solid players, the New Zealand Warriors will gain some big names in 2016. Sydney Roosters fullback, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will head across the ditch to unite with many of his Kiwi international team mates. Alongside him will be Isaac Luke, the South Syndey hooker and also New Zealand international. The two have a lethal combination with Shaun Johnson on the world stage, and will provide plenty of impotence in attack and defence. The pair’s arrival should take a lot of pressure off Johnson and give the Warriors multiple dimensions.
While 2015 proved to be another poor season for the New Zealand side, 2016 looks set to be a great step forward for the club on the back of some impressive signings. Shaun Johnson will again be back, and RTS and Luke will prove good partners in crime. The Warrior’s hurting fan base has plenty to be positive about, and should feel confident of their chances next year.