Record: 7 wins, 17 losses
Ladder Position: 13th
Player of the Year: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Unfortunately, there are not many positive things to say about the Warriors 2017 NRL season. Although we say it every year, us Warriors fans truly believed that this would finally be our year, but we were bitterly disappointed. There was an overwhelming amount of hype about the potential of the Warriors squad this season due to the arrival of a new coach; Stephen Kearney, star player Kieran Foran, the return of Tuivasa-Sheck from injury and the fact we had the entire Kiwis spine on our side.
Despite the excitement and possibly unrealistic expectations put on the team, this season turned out to be one of the worst in the clubs history and the standard of football increasingly got worse as the weeks went by. The team struggled in both attack and defence as they were unable to stop their opposition from steamrolling through their defensive line and they were only scoring a measly 18.5 points on average per game leaving them as the third worst attacking team in the competition.
Injuries also played a part in the Warriors downfall as their main attacking weapon Shaun Johnson suffered a ruptured PCL and missed 6 of their final games which evidently had a huge impact on how the team performed. All hope for the team to make a comeback from their losing streak was gone the moment Johnson went down in round 19 and was the nail in the coffin to their premiership dreams.
Ultimately the team lacked consistency, commitment and dedication which lead to some of the worst football we have seen from the club. The forwards specifically let the team down throughout the entire season as they seemed incapable of matching the rest of the competition and continuously lost the battle in the middle. This meant the backs never had the opportunity or space to make their magic.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck rises to the occasion
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was named player of the year for the club at their awards night in Auckland. At the tender age of 24, the young halfback was given the responsibility to be captain for the first time in his career. Tuivasa-Sheck well and truly deserved player of the year as he managed to keep his cool while captaining the team in one of the worst seasons of the clubs history. Not only did he captain a broken team with grace but he was also one of the most consistent players on the field as well. He played every game as if he was hungry for the win and put his heart into it – unlike majority of the team. He ran the most metres out of the team with a total of 3764m, the most tackle breaks with 96 and made 14 line breaks which was also the highest out of the team.
The forward pack let the team down
A good rugby league team needs its exciting players to add a spark like the Shaun Johnsons and Kieran Forans, but what it needs even more is a strong forward pack to carry the rest of the team. Unfortunately the Warriors forward pack did not do their job this season and their shortcomings were one of the main reasons why the team didn’t stand a chance against the other clubs. The forward pack were never able to dominate the game due to their lack of size and immaturity. The only forwards who consistently performed and made somewhat of a difference in the middle were Simon Mannering with his defencive efforts and James Gavet with his running and the bit of mongrel he brings to the game.
The misguided anticipation of Keiran Foran
When it was announced Kieran Foran would come back to his home country and play for the Warriors, it gave many fans hope that he would be just what the team needed to have a successful season. There was much anticipation surrounding his debut in round 5 and he definitely performed to expectations. After the game, there were reports that he was ‘the missing piece’ the team had been searching for and that he would be the steadying influence to the clubs success. As the weeks went by and the Warriors season slowly came to an end, it became apparent that Kieran Foran hardly made an impact and it seemed as though he used his time at the Warriors as a rehabilitation period to get match fit for his new club the Bulldogs in the 2018 season. Majority of his time at the Warriors was also spent on the sidelines as he continued to get himself injured. To add salt to the wound, Foran has also announced that he will be forfeiting the upcoming world cup by deciding not to play for Kiwis to instead have a longer off-season in order to get his body right for next years NRL season.
The million dollar question: What is wrong with the New Zealand Warriors?
This has been the question on everybody’s mind as the disastrous season has come to an end. The Warriors tried to make a change by swapping coaches multiple times, buying expensive and reputable players but they still went on to play like a bunch of amateurs. There has been talk about whether it is the relaxed culture at the club which is causing their demise or the standard of their fitness training, the fact no talented Australian players want to move to New Zealand or the development of our junior rugby league players. On paper the Warriors looked like they would be a force to be reckoned with this season as they had multiple high profile players as well as the Kiwis spine and coach so one can comprehend why they performed as bad as they did. The club is even starting to build a reputation as a graveyard for successful players careers as many have come here and failed to impress. But next year is our season.. Right Warriors fans?
2017 Gains and Losses
Gains: Tohu Harris (Storm), Gerard Beale (Sharks), Leivaha Pulu (Titans), Manaia Cherrington (Sharks), Zac Santo (Raiders)
Losses: Kieran Foran (Bulldogs), Manu Vatuvei (Salford Red Devils), Ben Matulino (Wests Tigers), Bureta Faraimo (Hull FC), Charlie Gubb (Raiders), Toafofoa Sipley (Sea Eagles)