2017 Season Preview: New Zealand Warriors

Last season placing: 10th


Considering the ups and downs the Warriors were faced with last season, it was an achievement to place 10th on the ladder. Fans were excited at the prospect of a successful season but ultimately were disappointed in the team’s performance and attitude throughout the season which resulted in drama throughout the club. The team managed to make a few come backs throughout the year, particularly towards the end of the season. In the end it was too late and the damage had already been done.

The Warriors desperately needed consistency. They had some great wins but they were few and far between. After the 42-0 loss to Melbourne Storm, fans had almost given up on the team until they came back with a resurrecting win against the St. George Illawarra Dragons 26-10 whilst breaking an 11 game, 9 season losing streak in the process. Fans thought this could be the beginning of a comeback but unfortunately their success was shortly lived, and they went on to face more heart breaking losses.

In order to improve from last season, the Warriors need consistency, a winner’s mind-set and for key players to play to their full potential. Every season the team has the makings for a successful season but they lose their confidence and don’t work together as a team. With a new coach on board, hopefully this is what they need to work as a team.

Key Players

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck: Tuivasa-Sheck’s season-ending injury last year was devastating to the club after so much anticipation of his signing with the warriors. Now that he has recovered and is ready to play in the 2017 season there is a lot of promise of what he can bring to the squad not only as a player but at the Warriors newly appointed captain. Tuivasa-Sheck showed strong leadership in just his second game as captain in the 26-6 win over the Gold Coast Titans by playing a key role in the first three tries and displayed strong defensive for the full 80 minutes. If his performance in the pre-season games are anything to go by, 2017 is going to be an extremely successful year for the 23-year-old fullback and captain.

Kieran Foran: Newly approved Warriors playmaker Kieran Foran is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the 2017 season. Although he won’t be playing until round three against the Bulldogs, he is going to be just what the Warriors have needed over the past few years. Instead of relying on Shaun Johnson to steer the team around, Foran is another player who can change games, “He is such a high-quality footballer and competitor who will add a lot to our squad”, says coach Stephen Kearney. A combination of Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson with the back-up from Roger Tuivasa-sheck and Issac luke will definitely be something to watch.

Simon Mannering: He may not be the most exciting player to watch but there is a reason why Simon Mannering has been named player of the year for a record fifth time during his 12 season career with the Warriors. He is the glue that holds the team together and the reason why the Warriors haven’t had many more points scored against them. His defense is something to be admired as he scored an average of 47.36 tackles each game last season making it the second straight season he has topped 1000 tackles. No doubt 2017 will be yet another triumphant year for the back-rower.

Story of 2017

The ideal story for the Warriors 2017 season would be to make it into the top four on the NRL ladder. I believe the Warriors have one of the strongest teams they have had in a long time and with the addition new coach Stephen Kearney they have all the ingredients to make it to the top. Although Warriors fans would love to see them take out the whole competition, their objective would be to reach top four and then aiming for a premiership in 2018.

With the return of Tuivasa-Sheck from injury, the new signing of Kieran Foran and a new coach to bring a fresh approach to the game as well as other club favourites, the Warriors are going to be the team to watch out for. If their pre-season games are anything to go by, it is going to be a very successful year for the club.

Top try scorer: Solomone Kata

Top points scorer: Shaun Johnson

Player of the year: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

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