Whats The Deal With The New Zealand Warriors?

Why do the Warriors suck? On the field, off the field, they just don’t have anything at all you can get excited about.

As other NRL clubs battle it out for survival in a crowded market, the Warriors have an entire country all to themselves. Its not even as if its a bad market, its a huge “Rugby” market with a big supporter base, and its nearest local rival (The “Super” 14 competition) finished up a long time ago.

They also have a decent stadium that can hold even their biggest crowds in comfort. Something some clubs would also kill for.

So whats the deal?

While it seems every week there in a new young Kiwi player carving up the NRL, none of them play for the Warriors. In fact all of New Zealand’s best young talent seems to be more willing to pick up and head to Australia at a very young age than live at home in New Zealand and have to go through the Warriors development system.

You have Kiwi born and bred talent scouts spotting talent in the junior ranks in New Zealand, and when they find someone good, they don’t call the Warriors, they call Aussie clubs.

You have to say though that Aussie clubs have a much better strike rate with young talent as well. So not only are the Warriors not getting the best young players, they are not developing the ones they have very well at all.

Then you have the Warriors first grade lineup.

Lets be honest here, how many players in the Warriors lineup are REALLY handy players? The type you’d see other clubs really keen on getting.

Steve Price, Wade McKinnon, Brent Tate, Simon Mannering….the rest I think I’d leave for an English Super League club to buy quite frankly.

The Warriors first grade team is just packed full of B grade talent. Players who have not kicked on. Players who are way past their used by date. Players who can be handy to have around, but who you only have in your starting lineup when you have a real lack of specialist players in the side.

Then you have the coach, Ivan Cleary. I like Ivan, he has stuck by the Warriors when other gutless career losers have left the club to bask in their own undeserved self glory. While other people at the club were pissing and moaning about not being respected enough as they lost game after game, Cleary has just kept working away, asking for nothing in return.

Cleary is doing the best with what he has got. I don;t think his tactics are going to keep an opposition coach up at night, but lets face it, if your chief playmakers were the likes of Fien or Hohaia you could make even the greatest game plan seem simplistic and dumbed down.

Then we have the management.

Their recruitment policy have been a mix between brilliant and non existent.

Getting Steve Price and Ruben Wiki was brilliant. Managing to also get Brent Tate was a coup.

The thing I find hard to understand though is that, with so many Kiwi players shining at NRL clubs, why are the Warriors not spending big money to get some Kiwi stars back in New Zealand?

I asked a long time ago why the Warriors were claiming they Couldnt Afford Sonny Bill Williams when it is clear they should have moved Heaven and Earth to get him.

Even when you look past the likes of Williams, Benji Marshall, Paul Whatuira and Karmichael Hunt, you have got to ask why the club isn’t going after lesser know players who are just emerging as stars.

Why isn’t the cry of “Come home boys, come back home and be close to your family and friends” a familiar one when a Kiwi players comes off contract with an NRL club. The fact of the matter is the Warriors don’t even rate a mention when a New Zealand player is looking for a new club.

Why is that?

You also have to question the way the clubs management promotes the Warriors. The crowds are abysmal! Sure you can point a finger at the way the team is playing, but even so, Mt Smart Stadium is hosting the best Rugby League teams in the world a couple of times a month, and that should be enough to be getting 15,000 in attendance alone!

The Warriors core supporters are no different from Aussie supporters. Kiwi fans are saying the same things Aussie fans are about the Warriors. The Kiwi’s hate the inconsistent performances, they hate the terrible away record, they hate the soft underbelly that is terribly exposed in the games that really count.

When you stand back and look at it all, its like the entire New Zealand Warriors experience is running at 60% of what it could be. In that case, you have to blame the management of the club.

If the Brisbane Broncos can turn over $20 million per season, average around 30,000 per home game and attract the best local talent despite all the competition from Australian NRL clubs, surely the Warriors can do better than they are now!

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