Being labelled as Wooden Spoon contenders did not deter a transformed Warriors side as they ended their seven-year play off drought. Their performance in the play-offs left much to be desired but could not sully in the progress the Warriors made.
2018 Club Record
Competition Points: 32 (8th placed)
2018 Player Achievements
Simon Mannering Medal: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Most Tries: David Fusitu’a (23)
Most Points: Shaun Johnson (82)
The Warriors were written off well before the first Steeden was kicked in 2018 with many predicting that the Warriors would take home the Wooden Spoon but under the tutelage of renowned trainer Alex Corvo the Warriors displayed a new-found attitude and drive. This change of attitude saw the team start the season strong with a 5-0 record. When the losses started to come the wheels appeared to have fallen off (with a 50-10 defeat to the Melbourne Storm in round 8 being the Warriors worst performance of the year) but the Warriors dug deep and avoided the post origin slide that they have been known for. Boasting one of the NRL’s best away records with eight wins and five losses the Road Warriors were never outside of the top eight for all of 2018 which is something no one predicted. A comprehensive 27-12 defeat to the Penrith Panthers in the play-offs ended the Warriors 2018 on a sour note but the Warriors showed great improvement and only have a few things to work on in the off-season.
Big question marks still hover over the Warriors forward pack with many of the teams most significant defeats being due to the pack being easily bullied. Improvement is needed here if the Warriors want to become a premiership contender in 2019.
Injuries throughout the year to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Issac Luke, Blake Green and Shaun Johnson meant that the Warriors spent large patches of the season without their complete spine which hindered their consistency at times and provided plenty of what if moments for the side.
New signings Blake Green, Tohu Harris, Peta Hiku and Agnatius Paasi all made immediate impacts to the Warriors. Blake gave Shaun Johnson the stable no-frills partner he has needed since James Maloney’s exit; it’s no secret the Shaun performs better when someone else is running the back-line, so Blake has lifted a giant weight of Shaun’s shoulders.
Tohu Harris and Peta Hiku combined with David Fusitu’a on the right edge to become one of the most dangerous attacking edges currently in the NRL with Fusitu’a bearing the fruit of this new combination topping the NRL try scorers list with 23 tries for the season. Paasi added starch to the Warriors forward pack and the signing of Leeson Ah Mau for 2019 will give him the much-needed assistance to turn this pack around.
The foundation has been built-in 2018, and the Warriors will be looking at building on it in 2019.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck had a breakout season and took significant strides in growing into his role as captain, and the 2018 Dally M winner was head and shoulders above the rest of his team week in and week out.
His contribution on attack was vital for the Warriors (4109 run metres and 1366 kick return metres respectively), but it was his defence that stood out in 2018 with many try-saving tackles that will flood highlight reels in preparation for the 2019 season.
In a year to remember his performance in round 22 against the Newcastle Knights was his best with 338 Metres, 11 tackle breaks and 2 Line breaks and will have Warriors fans hoping for more of the same in 2019.
2019 GAINS AND LOSSES
Leeson Ah Mau (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Manaia Cherrington (Released), Anthony Gelling (Widnes Vikings), Mason Lino (Newcastle Knights), Simon Mannering (Retired), Zac Santo (Released), Albert Vete (Melbourne Storm)
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