Warriors are genuine contenders, say Aussies

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 13:48 14/07/2014
Sam Tomkins
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SHOWING HIS CLASS: Englishman Sam Tomkins is getting into his groove in the NRL.

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The red hot Warriors are turning heads across the Tasman with noted Australian commentators suddenly talking up the New Zealand-based side as NRL title contenders.

The team's 48-0 demolition of the Parramatta Eels last Saturday night has lifted them to sixth on the table.

Three consecutive wins, and five victories in their last six matches, have got those in the know talking up the Warriors as the race to the playoffs heats up.

Writing his blog for Fox Sports, Brett Kimmorley said: "I think the Warriors are a genuine chance of winning the Premiership this year. They're the smoky outside the top three."

He believed the team had installed "a complete culture change" led by new coach Andrew McFadden and the biggest spin-off had been some excellent defence.

"The Warriors have stopped throwing Hail Mary passes, they've got more structure in their attack, and they rely on a game plan that revolves around their natural forward power and the wizardry of Shaun Johnson and Sam Tomkins out the back," Kimmorley said.

"The move to get Chad Townsend running the game, and taking the pressure off Johnson so he can just play off the cuff, has been a masterstroke."

Paul Connolly, writing in the Australian edition of the respected Guardian said the Warriors are now "looking as dangerous as peanut butter sandwiches in a crèche".

"The Warriors do have a way of surprising, of course, and you wouldn't put an implosion past them, but you do fancy their chances this year," Connolly said.

The Australians have noted the unpredictability being dished up by the Warriors, highlighted by an unusual try to Sam Tomkins against the Eels where they won a scrum tighthead from a pushover effort close to the Parramatta line.

Tomkins has won some individual praise too for his growing contributions.

The highly-paid English signing was slow to get a feel for his demanding new environment but the Guardian believes the star fullback is starting to show his value to the Warriors.

"Tomkins deserved considerable time in which to acclimatise in both a footballing and social sense," Connolly argued.

"But over the past couple of months he has shown signs that he's acclimatising. You wouldn't yet put him in the bracket with Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Jarryd Hayne and Brett Stewart (how blessed is the NRL for brilliant custodians?) but he's getting closer.

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"He had his best game all season against the Eels. It wasn't just his two tries, but his link play with Shaun Johnson and his effectiveness at putting the defence in two minds which in turn gave space to his outside men."

Connolly felt Tomkins' defence was "still questionable" but his attack was gaining "purpose and confidence".

"It's like his compass is now in order and he knows where he's going."

The Warriors face a crucial match against the seventh-placed Broncos in Brisbane on Saturday night.

The Broncos are having to back up from tonight's clash with the third-placed Panthers.

- Stuff

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