With the much-publicised exit of Shaun Johnson, the New Zealand Warriors were looking to start their new era off with a playoff run. It wasn’t to be however as the Warriors had a year to forget with plenty of question marks about 2020 looming.
2019 Club Record
Competition Points: 21
2019 Player Achievements
Simon Mannering Medal: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Most Tries: Ken Maumalo (17)
Most Points: Ken Maumalo (68)
With the exit of Shaun Johnson, many pundits had the Warriors earmarked for their first-ever wooden spoon. An enormous 40-6 victory over the Bulldogs in Round one gave Warriors fans hope, t that was soon followed by heavy defeats to the Tigers and Sea Eagles. The Warriors spent the majority of the season in hard-fought encounters, winning or losing by small margins, keeping themselves in the hunt for a top-eight finish. The playoffs were all but gone by Round 20 when the Warriors were humbled by and impressive Raiders side in a 46-12 loss. This started a Warriors slide as they conceded 177 points in rounds 20 to 24 while only scoring 68 points themselves. The Warriors side at least ended their season on a high with a 24-20 victory over a second-string Raiders side. 2019 was ultimately a season of what if’s for the New Zealand side as those close losses prevented the Warriors from building any momentum.
Big question marks hover over the Warriors forward pack with many of the teams most significant defeats being due to the pack being easily bullied. The Warriors relied too much on their impressive Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, d he cannot continue to carry this side on his own. He needs help from his teammates if the Warriors want to become a premiership contender in 2020
The Warriors showed glimpses of the off the cuff football that they are known for but too often the Warriors attack lacked direction and was too predictable, Stephen Kearney and his coaching staff need to go back to the drawing board and find a way to allow the Warriors to play the unpredictable style that the other teams fear.
Injuries hindered the Warriors season as they lost experienced players Issac Luke, Blake Green and Tohu Harris for large patches of the season which hindered their consistency at times, the only positive for Warriors fans being the experience the younger players have gained this season by having to step up.
New signings Leeson Ah Mau and Lachlan Burr added size to the Warriors pack and midseason signing Kodi Nikorima added much-needed experience to the Warriors halves. Chanel Harris-Tavita’s debut showed that the Warriors have a bonafide superstar on their hands and it will be hard to imagine him not making an impact in 2020.
With 28 players already on the books for 2020, the Warriors only have two spots left to fill, on that fact alone expectations will be low and next year could be another long season for New Zealand fans.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
While 2019 was not a season to remember for Warriors, Ken Maumalo could hold his head up high as he went from strength to strength.
Typically relied on as a battering ram for his side, Maumalo was able to show his scoring ability this season, scoring more tries this season (17) than he had in the first four years of his career (14).
His name was featured heavily in the majority of attacking stats, Leading the NRL in post-contact metres (1490m), and sitting 2nd in all runs (448), 3rd in run metres (4387m) and 5th in linebreaks (16).
He is now a cornerstone of the Warriors attack and Warriors fans will be expecting more of the same if not more in 2020.
2020 GAINS AND LOSSES
Joshua Curran (Sydney Roosters, 2021), Kodi Nikorima (Brisbane Broncos, 2022)
Blake Ayshford (retired), Issac Luke (Released), Solomona Kata (Melbourne Storm), Ligi Sao (Hull FC), Chris Satae (Hull FC)