I don’t want to jump the gun and jinx them, but how good are the Warriors going! After years of promising so much and delivering so little, the team from across the ditch is finally looking like they can make their way into the top four and push for the premiership.
The Warriors came from the bottom half of the eight in 2011 to make it to the grand final. This even came after a qualifying finals round flogging at the hands of the Broncos (they can thank the McIntyre system for keeping them alive that year). They went on to fall at the final hurdle to Manly but many saw 2011 as the start of a Warriors dynasty.
They had a youthful team full of quality players and leading into 2012 were considered premiership favourites. History goes to show that they were pretty ordinary throughout 2012 and 2013 and this year didn’t start much better. Despite having a squad brimming with talent and attacking flair, the Warriors were languishing down the bottom of the table. Matt Elliott even found himself as the first coach sacked this year.
A few months later and under the tutelage of Andrew McFadden, the Warriors are finally living up to their potential. Sam Tomkins is starting to live up to the hype that surrounded his big money move from England, Konrad Hurrell is proving near impossible to stop and Shaun Johnson is the most exciting attacking player in the comp who looks likely to find a gap every time he has the ball.
You can’t forget the forward pack either with Jacob Lillyman, Simon Mannering and Ben Matulino all big men who lead the way up front.
Things have really clicked into gear over the last two months with the New Zealand based side winning their last three games and five from their last six. Their record of nine wins from sixteen games is pretty impressive when you consider that they lost five of their first seven. While the Warriors have always been good at putting teams to the sword the last few weeks has seen them grind out some closer wins, like they did against the Broncos and Panthers. Their huge win against the Eels also exhibited how lethal they can be when they are on song. While Parra are proving to be a one-man team, not even the great Jarryd Hayne would’ve been able to stop most of these first half trys.
The warriors have even got luck on their side at the moment. I loved seeing Tomkins score from a contested scrum on the weekend and I would like to see more of it in the future, despite this nine times out of ten the referees would blow a penalty to the team with the feed.
While the Warriors are still a way off from taking their maiden premiership, as a Manly fan I would be pretty nervous if the Sea Eagles have to face up against them in the finals. They play the Broncos in Brisbane and Manly in Auckland over the next fortnight and their performances against both of these teams will give a good indication on whether or not they can grab that top four spot.