Record: 10 Wins, 14 Losses
Ladder Position: 10th
Player of the year: Simon Mannering
The Warriors 2016 season started out with a lot of promise due to the signings of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Isaac Luke. The new players had fans excited about the possibility of having a successful year. Unfortunately the team lost the first 3 rounds which had fans feeling deflated, thinking they were in for another disaster season.
Although the team came back with 2 good wins, there was no consistency throughout the season resulting in ups and downs on and off the field. Tuivasa-Sheck’s injury in round 7 was devastating to the club and fans who hoped he would be what they needed to take the team to the next level.
Another massive knock was the incident that took place after the 42-0 loss to Melbourne Storm. Six players including established Kiwis, Manu Vatuvei and Ben Matulino admitted to mixing prescription drugs with energy drinks on a night out. The incident resulted in Koni Hurrell making the move to the Gold Coast Titans and banned from playing against the Warriors in the upcoming game due to negative comments about the coach.
Despite the drama the club faced, the team managed to make a comeback mid-season by winning multiple games and playing excellent football. In the end, the Warriors struggled late season in the big matches which ultimately contributed to Andrew McFaddedn’s departure.
Charlie Gubb Cult-Hero
Charlie Gubb made his debut for the Warriors in 2013 and has been making an impact on the field ever since. This season he equally made an impact off the field by becoming a fan favourite and taking Koni Hurrells spot as the Warriors newest cult-hero.
It’s his recognisable shaggy hair and fearlessness to run it hard that makes him a unique and stand out player. Although Gubb was never on the field for the full 80 minutes, the intensity and enthusiasm he brought when he came off the bench had the ability to lift the whole team and turn games around. The 26-year-old already has a small group of fans in the West Stand at Mt Smart Stadium and is gradually becoming a favourite among all.
Unfortunately for Warrior’s fans, Gubb was suspended from playing in the NRL for seven weeks due to a grade two shoulder charge in round 19 against Manly Sea Eagles. The charge was disputed by Gubb himself and Darcy Lussick whom he shoulder charged. The Warrior faithfuls will be hoping for a big season from him next year.
The year of Solomone Kata
Solomone Kata was another stand out this season due to his impressive try scoring, line breaks and metres gained per game. Kata made his Warriors debut in round 1 last year and has been a favourite pick of McFadden’s for the past two seasons, and says “you know what you’re going to get” from the 177cm, 97kg player.
He was the top try scorer for the Warriors this year scoring a total of 15 tries in 21 games during the NRL season and has also been selected as apart of the Kiwis line-up for the test match against Australia in Perth.
Apart from his exceptional try scoring, the highlight of Kata’s season was the impressive fend of Anthony Don in the 24-14 win against the Gold Coast Titans. In the 66th minute, Kata intercepted the ball sprinting down the length of the field and executed one of the greatest fends we’ve ever seen. Kata’s hard work and dedication has paid off this season which led to the ultimate reward of being selected for the Kiwis.
After one of the most shocking losses to Melbourne Storm and the miserable week the club endured due to the prescription pills scandal, it looked as though the Warriors season was well and truly over in round 8.
Fans knew the next game could go one of two ways, either the team would crack under the immense pressure and feel the loss of the six players dropped due to breaking club protocol, or they would be more motivated than ever to make a comeback and regain respect from their fans. It turned out to be the latter with the Warriors winning 26-10 against the St. George Illawarra Dragons whilst breaking an 11 game, 9 season losing streak in the process.
When all hope thought to be lost, the Warriors gave fans what they were screaming for and restored their faith in a team that wasn’t worthy the previous week.
2017 GAINS AND LOSSES
Gains: Kieran Foran (Eels)
Losses: Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Ben Henry (Retired), Konrad Hurrell (Gold Coast Titans), Shaun Lane (Manly Sea Eagles), Ali Lauittiiti (Retired), Thomas Leuluai (Wigan Warriors), Jeff Robson (Released), Jonathan Wright (Manly Sea Eagles)