League year promised much, delivered little

Michael Luck of the Warriors reflects after their loss to the Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Michael Luck of the Warriors reflects after their loss to the Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors reflects after their loss to the Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors reflects after their loss to the Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Josh McCrone of the Raiders in action against the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Josh McCrone of the Raiders in action against the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Ben Matulino of the Warriors scores a try during their loss to the Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Ben Matulino of the Warriors scores a try during their loss to the Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Michael Luck fans show their support for his last game as the Warriors take on the Canberra Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Michael Luck fans show their support for his last game as the Warriors take on the Canberra Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Sebastine Ikahihifo of the Warriors (L) shows his disappointment as the Panthers celebrate a winning try at Mt Smart Stadium.
Sebastine Ikahihifo of the Warriors (L) shows his disappointment as the Panthers celebrate a winning try at Mt Smart Stadium.
Sam McKendry of the Panthers is tackled against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Sam McKendry of the Panthers is tackled against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors is tackled against the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors is tackled against the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Russell Packer of the Warriors is tackled against the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Russell Packer of the Warriors is tackled against the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Lachlan Coote of the Panthers passes against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Lachlan Coote of the Panthers passes against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Lewis Brown of the Warriors reflects after their loss to the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Lewis Brown of the Warriors reflects after their loss to the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
The Warriors stand in goal waiting a for a conversion during their match against the North Queensland Cowboys.
The Warriors stand in goal waiting a for a conversion during their match against the North Queensland Cowboys.
The Warriors stand in goal waiting a for a conversion during their match against the North Queensland Cowboys.
The Warriors stand in goal waiting a for a conversion during their match against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Ashley Graham of the Cowboys celebrates his third try of the match against the Warriors with Antonio Winterstein and Glenn Hall of the Cowboys.
Ashley Graham of the Cowboys celebrates his third try of the match against the Warriors with Antonio Winterstein and Glenn Hall of the Cowboys.
 Nathan Friend of the Warriors holds his hand to his face against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Nathan Friend of the Warriors holds his hand to his face against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Aaron Payne of the Cowboys scores a try past Nathan Friend and Carlos Tuimavave of the Warriors.
Aaron Payne of the Cowboys scores a try past Nathan Friend and Carlos Tuimavave of the Warriors.
Bill Tupou, Carlos Tuimavave, Kevin Locke and Elijah Taylor of the Warriors show their disappointment in performance against the Cronulla Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.
Bill Tupou, Carlos Tuimavave, Kevin Locke and Elijah Taylor of the Warriors show their disappointment in performance against the Cronulla Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.
Andrew Fifita of the Sharks scores a tryagainst the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Andrew Fifita of the Sharks scores a tryagainst the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
James Maloney of the Warriors is taken from the field with a knee injury against the Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.
James Maloney of the Warriors is taken from the field with a knee injury against the Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.
 Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors is caught between the legs of Nathan Stapleton of the Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors is caught between the legs of Nathan Stapleton of the Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.
Colin Best of the Sharks fends off James Maloney of the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Colin Best of the Sharks fends off James Maloney of the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Elijah Taylor of the Warriors in action against the Manly Sea Eagles at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Elijah Taylor of the Warriors in action against the Manly Sea Eagles at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Jorge Taufua of the Sea Eagles runs the line against the Warriors at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Jorge Taufua of the Sea Eagles runs the line against the Warriors at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Kevin Locke celebrates his opening try against the Manly Sea Eagles at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Kevin Locke celebrates his opening try against the Manly Sea Eagles at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Feleti Mateo is tackled on the line against the Manly Sea Eagles at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Feleti Mateo is tackled on the line against the Manly Sea Eagles at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Knights players celebrate after their win over the Warriors.
Knights players celebrate after their win over the Warriors.
Shaun Johnson steps through the tackle of Darius Boyd while on his way to an early try during the Warriors' match against the Knights.
Shaun Johnson steps through the tackle of Darius Boyd while on his way to an early try during the Warriors' match against the Knights.
Steve Rapira of the Warriors is picked up by the defence of Matt Gillett of the Broncos.
Steve Rapira of the Warriors is picked up by the defence of Matt Gillett of the Broncos.
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors takes on the Brisbane Broncos' defence.
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors takes on the Brisbane Broncos' defence.
Nathan Friend of the Warriors attempts to break through the Brisbane Broncos' defence.
Nathan Friend of the Warriors attempts to break through the Brisbane Broncos' defence.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors is wrapped up by  the Brisbane Broncos' defence.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors is wrapped up by the Brisbane Broncos' defence.
Shaun Johnson dives over for a try in the Warriors win over the Titans.
Shaun Johnson dives over for a try in the Warriors win over the Titans.
Jacob Lillyman runs into a wall of Gold Coast players.
Jacob Lillyman runs into a wall of Gold Coast players.
Konrad Hurrell celebrates one of his three tries against the Titans.
Konrad Hurrell celebrates one of his three tries against the Titans.
Konrad Hurrell breaks through the tackle of Jamal Idris of the Titans.
Konrad Hurrell breaks through the tackle of Jamal Idris of the Titans.
Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors dives over to score a try against the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium.
Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors dives over to score a try against the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium.
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors makes a break against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors makes a break against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Sione Lousi of the Warriors offloads the ball against the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium.
Sione Lousi of the Warriors offloads the ball against the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium.
Ashton Sims of the Cowboys shows his disappointment after Nathan Friend of the Warriros scored.
Ashton Sims of the Cowboys shows his disappointment after Nathan Friend of the Warriros scored.
Russell Packer of the Warriors charges forward against the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium.
Russell Packer of the Warriors charges forward against the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium.
Fullback Kevin Locke on the charge during the Warriors' game against Cronulla Sharks.
Fullback Kevin Locke on the charge during the Warriors' game against Cronulla Sharks.
Jeff Robson is congratulated by team-mates after scoring the winning try for Cronulla against the Warriors.
Jeff Robson is congratulated by team-mates after scoring the winning try for Cronulla against the Warriors.
Kevin Locke is taken in a head-high tackle.
Kevin Locke is taken in a head-high tackle.
Elijah Taylor (centre) and Ben Henry tackle Josh Bakuya of the Cronulla Sharks.
Elijah Taylor (centre) and Ben Henry tackle Josh Bakuya of the Cronulla Sharks.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors celebrates scoring a try during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors celebrates scoring a try during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
Kevin Locke of the Warriors is tackled during their match against the Penrith Panthers.
Kevin Locke of the Warriors is tackled during their match against the Penrith Panthers.
Kevin Locke of the Warriors celebrates scoring a try during their match against the Penrith Panthers.
Kevin Locke of the Warriors celebrates scoring a try during their match against the Penrith Panthers.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors runs the ball during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors runs the ball during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
Alemana Mara of the Warriors runs the ball during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
Alemana Mara of the Warriors runs the ball during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
James Maloney of the Warriors is congratulated by his team mates after scoring a try during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
James Maloney of the Warriors is congratulated by his team mates after scoring a try during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
Russell Packer of the Warriors charges forward against the Melbourne Storm.
Russell Packer of the Warriors charges forward against the Melbourne Storm.
Alehana Mara of the Warriors makes a break in their against the Melbourne Storm.
Alehana Mara of the Warriors makes a break in their against the Melbourne Storm.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors makes a break in their against the Melbourne Storm.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors makes a break in their against the Melbourne Storm.
Simon Mannering of the Warriors walks the team off before their game with the Melbourne Storm.
Simon Mannering of the Warriors walks the team off before their game with the Melbourne Storm.
Ben Matulino of the Warriors charges forward during their game with the Melbourne Storm.
Ben Matulino of the Warriors charges forward during their game with the Melbourne Storm.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors is tackled against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors is tackled against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Tim Moltzen of the Tigers is congratulated by teammate Liam Fulton against the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval.
Tim Moltzen of the Tigers is congratulated by teammate Liam Fulton against the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval.
Bill Tupou of the Warriors scores a try against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Bill Tupou of the Warriors scores a try against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Ben Henry of the Warriors is tackled against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Ben Henry of the Warriors is tackled against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors is tackled against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors is tackled against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Warriors' Konrad Hurrell celebrates his try against the Roosters.
Warriors' Konrad Hurrell celebrates his try against the Roosters.
Warriors' Manu Vatuvei goes after the bomb against Roosters' Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Sam Perrett.
Warriors' Manu Vatuvei goes after the bomb against Roosters' Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Sam Perrett.
Warriors Shaun Johnson breaks free and scores his first try against the Roosters.
Warriors Shaun Johnson breaks free and scores his first try against the Roosters.
Warriors Manu Vatuvei scores a try against the Roosters.
Warriors Manu Vatuvei scores a try against the Roosters.
Warriors celebrate Manu Vatuvei's try against the Roosters.
Warriors celebrate Manu Vatuvei's try against the Roosters.
A fight breaks out between the Warriors and the Roosters.
A fight breaks out between the Warriors and the Roosters.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors beats Sam Perrett of the Roosters to the high ball.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors beats Sam Perrett of the Roosters to the high ball.
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney against the Broncos.
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney against the Broncos.
Manu Vatuvei, Nathan Friend, Ben Henry and Jacob Lillyman of the Warriors celebrate after Feleti Mateo scored a try.
Manu Vatuvei, Nathan Friend, Ben Henry and Jacob Lillyman of the Warriors celebrate after Feleti Mateo scored a try.
Warriors prop Jacob Lilyman runs at Broncos replacement Matt Gillett.
Warriors prop Jacob Lilyman runs at Broncos replacement Matt Gillett.
Warriors centre Ben Henry dodges Broncos halfback Peter Wallace.
Warriors centre Ben Henry dodges Broncos halfback Peter Wallace.
Warriors players celebrate the opening against the Brisbane Broncos.
Warriors players celebrate the opening against the Brisbane Broncos.
Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell in action against the Broncos at Mount Smart Stadium.
Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell in action against the Broncos at Mount Smart Stadium.
Justin O'Neill of the Storm scores a try against the Warriors.
Justin O'Neill of the Storm scores a try against the Warriors.
Storm players run through the team banner during the round eight NRL match against the New Zealand Warriors .
Storm players run through the team banner during the round eight NRL match against the New Zealand Warriors .
Krisnan Inu of the Warriors is tackled against the Storm.
Krisnan Inu of the Warriors is tackled against the Storm.
Bill Tupou of the Warriors scores his team's first try against the Storm.
Bill Tupou of the Warriors scores his team's first try against the Storm.
Will Chambers of the Storm is congratulated by his team mates after scoring a try.
Will Chambers of the Storm is congratulated by his team mates after scoring a try.
Warriors forward Lewis Brown scores.
Warriors forward Lewis Brown scores.
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney in their game againt the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney in their game againt the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney scragged in their game againt the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney scragged in their game againt the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Warriors centre Ben Henry goes into score in their game against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Warriors centre Ben Henry goes into score in their game against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors controls a high ball.
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors controls a high ball.
Bronson Harrison of the Raiders off loads the ball during their game against the Warriors.
Bronson Harrison of the Raiders off loads the ball during their game against the Warriors.
Ben Matulino of the Warriors is tackled by Dane Tilse of the Raiders.
Ben Matulino of the Warriors is tackled by Dane Tilse of the Raiders.
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors is tackled.
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors is tackled.
Nathan Friend of the Warriors runs the ball.
Nathan Friend of the Warriors runs the ball.
Reece Robinson of the Raiders is tackled by Simon Mannering of the Warriors.
Reece Robinson of the Raiders is tackled by Simon Mannering of the Warriors.
Elijah Taylor of the Warriors is tackled by Bronson Harrison and Terry Campese of the Raiders.
Elijah Taylor of the Warriors is tackled by Bronson Harrison and Terry Campese of the Raiders.
Elijah Taylor after the Warriors' loss to the Roosters.
Elijah Taylor after the Warriors' loss to the Roosters.
Roosters' Jared Warea-Hargreaves walks away after tackling Ukuma Ta'ai of the Warriors.
Roosters' Jared Warea-Hargreaves walks away after tackling Ukuma Ta'ai of the Warriors.
Ben Henry is tackled by Brad Takarangi of the Roosters.
Ben Henry is tackled by Brad Takarangi of the Roosters.
James Maloney celebrates a try against the Roosters.
James Maloney celebrates a try against the Roosters.
Simon Mannering is tackled by Braith Anasta of the Roosters.
Simon Mannering is tackled by Braith Anasta of the Roosters.
Ben Matulino is tackled by Martin Kennedy of the Roosters.
Ben Matulino is tackled by Martin Kennedy of the Roosters.
Gold Coast Titans second rower Greg Bird is contained by Shaun Johnson, Jerome Ropati, Lewis Brown and Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors.
Gold Coast Titans second rower Greg Bird is contained by Shaun Johnson, Jerome Ropati, Lewis Brown and Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors.
Warriors centre Jerome Ropati runs at Gold Coast Titans halfback Scott Prince.
Warriors centre Jerome Ropati runs at Gold Coast Titans halfback Scott Prince.
Warriors prop Ben Matulinoon the charge.
Warriors prop Ben Matulinoon the charge.
Warriors captain Simon Mannering charges into Gold Coast Titans second rower Mark Minichiello.
Warriors captain Simon Mannering charges into Gold Coast Titans second rower Mark Minichiello.
Warriors hooker Nathan Friend is tackled by Gold Coast Titans prop Nate Myles.
Warriors hooker Nathan Friend is tackled by Gold Coast Titans prop Nate Myles.
Warriors prop Ben Matulino is wrapped by Gold Coast Titans prop Luke Bailey.
Warriors prop Ben Matulino is wrapped by Gold Coast Titans prop Luke Bailey.
Warriors fullback Kevin Locke in action against Gold Coast.
Warriors fullback Kevin Locke in action against Gold Coast.
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney scores inthe tackle of Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba.
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney scores inthe tackle of Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba.
Warriors second-rower Feleti Mateo offloads in the tackle of Bulldogs replacement James Graham.
Warriors second-rower Feleti Mateo offloads in the tackle of Bulldogs replacement James Graham.
Warriors fullback Kevin Locke dives to score in the tackle of Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba.
Warriors fullback Kevin Locke dives to score in the tackle of Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba.
Warriors replacement Lewis Brown on the charge against the Bulldogs.
Warriors replacement Lewis Brown on the charge against the Bulldogs.
Warriors lock Elijah Taylor tackles Bulldogs replacement Greg Eastwood.
Warriors lock Elijah Taylor tackles Bulldogs replacement Greg Eastwood.
Warriors halfback James Maloney busts through the Parramatta Eels defence on the way to scoring a try during their round two match in Sydney.
Warriors halfback James Maloney busts through the Parramatta Eels defence on the way to scoring a try during their round two match in Sydney.
Back rower Elijah Taylor offloads for the Warriors.
Back rower Elijah Taylor offloads for the Warriors.
Centre Konrad Hurrell runs into the heart of the Eels defence.
Centre Konrad Hurrell runs into the heart of the Eels defence.
Warriors halfback James Maloney completes a tackle on Jarryd Hayne after the Eels fullback fell heavily on an injured knee.
Warriors halfback James Maloney completes a tackle on Jarryd Hayne after the Eels fullback fell heavily on an injured knee.
The Warriors celebrate a try to Feleti Mateo (second from left).
The Warriors celebrate a try to Feleti Mateo (second from left).
Warriors centre Lewis Brown charges through the Manly defence, leaving Glenn Stewart (right) clutching at air.
Warriors centre Lewis Brown charges through the Manly defence, leaving Glenn Stewart (right) clutching at air.
Big wing Manu Vatuvei celebrates his second try that pulled the Warriors within striking distance.
Big wing Manu Vatuvei celebrates his second try that pulled the Warriors within striking distance.
A dejected Kevin Locke has a drink following the Warriors' NRL season-opening loss to Manly.
A dejected Kevin Locke has a drink following the Warriors' NRL season-opening loss to Manly.
Manu Vatuvei scores a try against Manly at Eden Park.
Manu Vatuvei scores a try against Manly at Eden Park.
Warriors Feleti Mateo is wrapped up by the Manly defence at Eden Park.
Warriors Feleti Mateo is wrapped up by the Manly defence at Eden Park.
Kevin Locke is consoled by Manu Vatuvei after being pushed into touch against Manly at Eden Park.
Kevin Locke is consoled by Manu Vatuvei after being pushed into touch against Manly at Eden Park.
Warriors' Shaun Johnson heads to the tryline against Manly at Eden Park.
Warriors' Shaun Johnson heads to the tryline against Manly at Eden Park.
An injured Jerome Ropati against Manly at Eden Park.
An injured Jerome Ropati against Manly at Eden Park.
Warriors' Manu Vatuvei tries to pass the ball infield against Manly at Eden Park.
Warriors' Manu Vatuvei tries to pass the ball infield against Manly at Eden Park.

As you will hear in any song by The Smiths or Morrissey, things that end bleak and miserable usually start with promise, excitement and hope.

Last summer, before a Steeden had been passed or kicked around rugby league paddocks throughout New Zealand, those three words were very much being used in anticipation for the year ahead.

No more so at Mt Smart Stadium. Fresh off a NRL Grand Final appearance in 2011, last season's Warriors had a certain confident vibe to them heading into the 2012 season.

GONE: Brian McClennan is looking for a new job after being sacked by the Warriors.
GONE: Brian McClennan is looking for a new job after being sacked by the Warriors.

Most of the side was the same from the heroes of the previous year, and now they had Brian McClennan, former Kiwis coach and blue-collar hero of New Zealand league, at the helm.

Everything smelt rosy. Even maverick millionaire Owen Glenn got in on the act, buying into club in early March just in time for the season opener against the Sea Eagles at Eden Park.

New Zealand's home of rugby was packed with leaguies - to watch the Warriors go down 26-20. From there, the first-half of the season wasn't that bad.

There were good wins (a 44-22 round 7 thumping of the Rabbitohs), and bad losses (a 32-12 trashing by the Raiders in Canberra in round 6), but come round 13, the Warriors still sat in the top eight.

Glenn and co-owner Eric Watson even hosted a glitzy press conference at SkyCity casino, announcing their plans to make the Warriors the biggest sports club in Australasia, with a ton of incoming investment.

From there however, it all unravelled. Reasons, excuses, call them what you want, were everywhere.

Consistent injuries to top line players like Sam Rapira, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Jacob Lillyman and Jerome Ropati. McClennan's growing struggles adapting to the NRL.

Lack of form by star halves pairing James Maloney, off to the Roosters at the end of the season, and Shaun Johnson.

Whatever it was the season spiralled out of control, following three tight, consecutive losses to the Broncos, Knights and Sea Eagles in rounds 19-21.

Repeated assurances from club chief executive Wayne Scurrah said that McClennan would remain until at least the end of the season.

Cue an ugly loss to the Panthers (18-16 at Mt Smart Stadium in round 24) with two games left, a likely rattling of the sabre from Glenn and two days later, Bluey got the flick.

Assistant Tony Iro stepped in for the remainder of the season, but couldn't help the team as they careened to a club-worst eight straight losses.

In their search for a new coach, the Warriors targeted the big names, the Storm's Craig Bellamy, the Sharks' Shane Flanagan and the Tigers' Tim Sheens, with big money.

They didn't get the bites they wanted - and ended up with former Panthers and Raiders boss Matt Elliott, a man Glenn admitted he'd never heard of at the start of the season.

The club has built around Elliott in preparation for 2013, providing him with a line-up of lieutenants such as Kiwis legend Ruben Wiki, former Crusaders trainer Carl Jennings and new assistant Andrew McFadden.

The Warriors-less NRL finals weren't as entertaining as they should have been, though the Storm-Bulldogs final was a cracker, with the boys from Melbourne taking a 14-4 victory.

Earlier in the year, Queensland won its seventh straight State of Origin series 2-1 over New South Wales.

Heading into 2013, the NRL faces the issue of increasing the salary cap, with wantaway former leaguie Israel Folau choosing to play rugby next year, instead of signing with the Eels.

With the NRL signing a big new billion dollar broadcast deal this year, the debate on salaries will rage over the summer.

In the international game, the Kiwis went zero from two in their clashes against the Kangaroos.

In an absorbing April Anzac test, New Zealand went down 20-12, before losing another close tussle 18-10 in Townsville in October.

With the international eligibility row roaring on, the Kiwis were able to snare Auckland-born Bulldogs prop Sam Kasiano and Cowboys prospect Jason Taumalolo to play for them, though Cowboys big bopper James Tamou sided with Australia, and Queensland.

The New Zealand Rugby League lost one of its greatest servants when chief executive Jim Doyle decided to resign, but have signed up savvy operator Phil Holden, former Lion Foundation CEO, to take his place.

Meanwhile Iro, leaving the Warriors after missing out on the coach's job, joined the NZRL in a high performance role.

The build-up to next year's World Cup remains strong with Kiwis camps planned in Sydney over the summer, as well as three warm-up tests before the tournament kicks off next October.

Though he is yet to confirm it there's every chance Sonny Bill Williams will be wearing a black jumper in England. 

On the domestic scene, Mt Albert Lions claimed the Fox Memorial Shield in Auckland.

A good year for: Sam Kasiano. The Auckland born-and-bred prop established himself as one of the best in the game with the Doggies, reaching an NRL Grand Final with them. Chose the Kiwis over Origin footy too.

A bad year for: Brian McClennan. Once heralded as the great blue-collar hero of Kiwi league, Bluey's chances of ever coaching a top level team again are unlikely. Poor bastard.

Crystal ball gazing: The Warriors will finish seventh and dip out in the first week of the NRL playoffs - with the Bulldogs winning the premiership. Sonny Bill Williams will become league's most dominant player again, and be part of a Kiwis side who defend their World Cup title in England next November.

Fairfax Media