After a disappointing 2019 which saw the New Zealand Warriors fail to make the top eight, the New Zealand side has redesigned their game plan in a bid to redeem themselves and return to playoffs football.
Wayde Egan is the Warriors only signing for 2020 and has big shoes to fill replacing the experienced Issac Luke. Andrew Johns tagged the former Penrith Panthers NYC captain as a future star of the NRL even going as far as comparing him to a young Cameron Smith.
Wayde is an excellent addition to the Warriors roster. His ability to pass quickly out of the ruck will be essential in unleashing the Warriors potent backline. If the Warriors forwards start gaining momentum, then you can expect to see the young Hooker take advantage of slow markers with sniping runs out of dummy half. His biggest asset, however, will be his kicking game, the Warriors kicking options were severely lacking in 2019, and his boot will help inject some life into the New Zealand sides at times lethargic offence.
ARRIVALS: Wayde Egan – Panthers
The most significant loss for the Warriors is the veteran hooker Issac Luke. Injuries hampered Issac’s time at the Warriors, and he didn’t live up to his potential except for his stand out season in 2018. His experience will be missed, but it’s his goal-kicking talent that will affect the Warriors the most. With no standout goal kicker in the predicted game day 17, Warriors fans will be quick to question letting Issac go if the Warriors start losing matches due to missed conversions.
DEPARTURES: Blake Ayshford – retired, Issac Luke – Dragons, Solomona Kata – ACT Brumbies, Ligi Sao – Hull FC, Chris Satae – Hull FC
Top 30 Squad: Bunty Afoa, Leeson Ah Mau, Gerard Beale, Adam Blair, Lachlan Burr, Josh Curran, Wayde Egan, Jackson Frei, David Fusitu’a, Blake Green, Tohu Harris, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Peta Hiku, Patrick Herbert, Eliesa Katoa, Adam Keighran, Karl Lawton, Sam Lisone, Ken Maumalo, Taane Milne, Kodi Nikorima, Agnatius Paasi, Isaiah Papali’i, Hayze Perham, Adam Pompey, Leivaha Pulu, Nathaniel Roache, Jazz Tevaga, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Spots Available: 1
Development Squad: Tom Ale, Rocco Berry, Israel Ogden, Selesitino Ravutaumada, Tyler Slade, Paul Turner
WHAT TO EXPECT
With only one addition to the roster, it’s hard to predict the Warriors improving from their middle of the pack performance from 2019. However, the Warriors are just so hard to predict and with several players in the final year of their contracts and fighting for new deals; it would be fair to expect better performances across the park. If that happens, the Warriors may find themselves in playoffs once again.
The most significant talking point so far this year for Warriors fans is the news that the Warriors have made changes to their game plan. Gone is the grinding football that relies heavily on a big forward pack that the Warriors do not possess and in is a more skill focused expansive style of play. I think this is an excellent decision as the Warriors play best when they’re playing a more off the cuff style, no better example of this was this performance in the final round of 2019 when they defeated the grand finalist Canberra Raiders and scored the try of the season. If the Warriors stick to this new game plan, they will be a hard team to stop and will at least be exciting to watch.
The Warriors first five games are against the Knights (away), Raiders (home), Sea Eagles (Away), Wests Tigers (Home) and Dragons (away). Consistent slow starters, the Warriors must win at least three or more of these matches if they are to have any chance of making the playoffs especially with their draw getting tougher towards the final month of the season.
Leading Tryscorer: Ken Maumalo
Leading Pointscorer: Chanel Harris-Tavita
Player of 2020: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck