League year promised much, delivered little

00:01, Jan 06 2013
Warriors 2012
Warriors' Manu Vatuvei tries to pass the ball infield against Manly at Eden Park.
Warriors 2012
An injured Jerome Ropati against Manly at Eden Park.
Warriors 2012
Warriors' Shaun Johnson heads to the tryline against Manly at Eden Park.
Warriors 2012
Kevin Locke is consoled by Manu Vatuvei after being pushed into touch against Manly at Eden Park.
Warriors 2012
Manu Vatuvei scores a try against Manly at Eden Park.
Warriors 2012
Warriors Feleti Mateo is wrapped up by the Manly defence at Eden Park.
Kevin Locke
A dejected Kevin Locke has a drink following the Warriors' NRL season-opening loss to Manly.
Manu Vatuvei
Big wing Manu Vatuvei celebrates his second try that pulled the Warriors within striking distance.
Lewis Brown
Warriors centre Lewis Brown charges through the Manly defence, leaving Glenn Stewart (right) clutching at air.
Warriors v Parramatta, round two
Centre Konrad Hurrell runs into the heart of the Eels defence.
Warriors v Parramatta, round two
The Warriors celebrate a try to Feleti Mateo (second from left).
Warriors v Parramatta, round two
Back rower Elijah Taylor offloads for the Warriors.
Warriors v Parramatta, round two
Warriors halfback James Maloney completes a tackle on Jarryd Hayne after the Eels fullback fell heavily on an injured knee.
Warriors v Parramatta, round two
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 v Parramatta, round two
Warriors lock Elijah Taylor tackles Bulldogs replacement Greg Eastwood.
Warriors v Parramatta, round two
Warriors fullback Kevin Locke dives to score in the tackle of Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba.
Warriors v Parramatta, round two
Warriors second-rower Feleti Mateo offloads in the tackle of Bulldogs replacement James Graham.
Warriors v Parramatta, round two
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney scores inthe tackle of Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba.
Warriors v Parramatta, round two
Warriors replacement Lewis Brown on the charge against the Bulldogs.
Warriors gallery
Gold Coast Titans second rower Greg Bird is contained by Shaun Johnson, Jerome Ropati, Lewis Brown and Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors.
Warriors gallery
Warriors centre Jerome Ropati runs at Gold Coast Titans halfback Scott Prince.
Warriors gallery
Warriors prop Ben Matulinoon the charge.
Warriors gallery
Warriors captain Simon Mannering charges into Gold Coast Titans second rower Mark Minichiello.
Warriors gallery
Warriors hooker Nathan Friend is tackled by Gold Coast Titans prop Nate Myles.
Warriors gallery
Warriors prop Ben Matulino is wrapped by Gold Coast Titans prop Luke Bailey.
Warriors gallery
Warriors fullback Kevin Locke in action against Gold Coast.
Warriors gallery
Simon Mannering is tackled by Braith Anasta of the Roosters.
Warriors gallery
James Maloney celebrates a try against the Roosters.
Warriors gallery
Roosters' Jared Warea-Hargreaves walks away after tackling Ukuma Ta'ai of the Warriors.
Warriors gallery
Ben Henry is tackled by Brad Takarangi of the Roosters.
Warriors gallery
Ben Matulino is tackled by Martin Kennedy of the Roosters.
Warriors gallery
Elijah Taylor after the Warriors' loss to the Roosters.
Warriors gallery
Elijah Taylor of the Warriors is tackled by Bronson Harrison and Terry Campese of the Raiders.
Warriors gallery
Reece Robinson of the Raiders is tackled by Simon Mannering of the Warriors.
Warriors gallery
Nathan Friend of the Warriors runs the ball.
Warriors gallery
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors is tackled.
Warriors gallery
Ben Matulino of the Warriors is tackled by Dane Tilse of the Raiders.
Warriors gallery
Bronson Harrison of the Raiders off loads the ball during their game against the Warriors.
Warriors gallery
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors controls a high ball.
Warriors gallery
Warriors forward Lewis Brown scores.
Warriors gallery
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney in their game againt the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Warriors gallery
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney scragged in their game againt the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Warriors gallery
Warriors centre Ben Henry goes into score in their game against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Warriors v Storm
Justin O'Neill of the Storm scores a try against the Warriors.
Warriors v Storm
Will Chambers of the Storm is congratulated by his team mates after scoring a try.
Warriors v Storm
Storm players run through the team banner during the round eight NRL match against the New Zealand Warriors .
Warriors v Storm
Krisnan Inu of the Warriors is tackled against the Storm.
Warriors v Storm
Bill Tupou of the Warriors scores his team's first try against the Storm.
Warriors v Storm
Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell in action against the Broncos at Mount Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Storm
Warriors players celebrate the opening against the Brisbane Broncos.
Warriors v Storm
Warriors centre Ben Henry dodges Broncos halfback Peter Wallace.
Warriors v Storm
Warriors prop Jacob Lilyman runs at Broncos replacement Matt Gillett.
Warriors v Storm
Warriors five-eighth James Maloney against the Broncos.
Warriors v Storm
Manu Vatuvei, Nathan Friend, Ben Henry and Jacob Lillyman of the Warriors celebrate after Feleti Mateo scored a try.
Warriors v Roosters
Warriors celebrate Manu Vatuvei's try against the Roosters.
Warriors v Roosters
A fight breaks out between the Warriors and the Roosters.
Warriors v Roosters
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors beats Sam Perrett of the Roosters to the high ball.
Warriors v Roosters
Warriors Manu Vatuvei scores a try against the Roosters.
Warriors v Roosters
Warriors Shaun Johnson breaks free and scores his first try against the Roosters.
Warriors v Roosters
Warriors' Konrad Hurrell celebrates his try against the Roosters.
Warriors v Roosters
Warriors' Manu Vatuvei goes after the bomb against Roosters' Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Sam Perrett.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors is tackled against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Tim Moltzen of the Tigers is congratulated by teammate Liam Fulton against the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Bill Tupou of the Warriors scores a try against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Ben Henry of the Warriors is tackled against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors is tackled against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Russell Packer of the Warriors charges forward against the Melbourne Storm.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Alehana Mara of the Warriors makes a break in their against the Melbourne Storm.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors makes a break in their against the Melbourne Storm.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Simon Mannering of the Warriors walks the team off before their game with the Melbourne Storm.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Ben Matulino of the Warriors charges forward during their game with the Melbourne Storm.
Warriors v Penrith
Kevin Locke of the Warriors is tackled during their match against the Penrith Panthers.
Warriors v Penrith
Kevin Locke of the Warriors celebrates scoring a try during their match against the Penrith Panthers.
Warriors v Penrith
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors runs the ball during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
Warriors v Penrith
Alemana Mara of the Warriors runs the ball during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
Warriors v Penrith
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors celebrates scoring a try during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
Warriors v Penrith
James Maloney of the Warriors is congratulated by his team mates after scoring a try during their game against the Penrith Panthers.
Kevin Locke
Fullback Kevin Locke on the charge during the Warriors' game against Cronulla Sharks.
Jeff Robson
Jeff Robson is congratulated by team-mates after scoring the winning try for Cronulla against the Warriors.
Kevin Locke
Kevin Locke is taken in a head-high tackle.
Warriors
Elijah Taylor (centre) and Ben Henry tackle Josh Bakuya of the Cronulla Sharks.
Warriors Gallery
Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors dives over to score a try against the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors Gallery
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors makes a break against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Warriors Gallery
Sione Lousi of the Warriors offloads the ball against the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors Gallery
Russell Packer of the Warriors charges forward against the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors Gallery
Ashton Sims of the Cowboys shows his disappointment after Nathan Friend of the Warriros scored.
Konrad Hurrell
Konrad Hurrell breaks through the tackle of Jamal Idris of the Titans.
Konrad Hurrell
Konrad Hurrell celebrates one of his three tries against the Titans.
Jacob Lillyman
Jacob Lillyman runs into a wall of Gold Coast players.
Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson dives over for a try in the Warriors win over the Titans.
Warriors v Broncos
Steve Rapira of the Warriors is picked up by the defence of Matt Gillett of the Broncos.
Warriors v Broncos
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors is wrapped up by the Brisbane Broncos' defence.
Warriors v Broncos
Nathan Friend of the Warriors attempts to break through the Brisbane Broncos' defence.
Warriors v Broncos
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors takes on the Brisbane Broncos' defence.
Warriors v Broncos
Elijah Taylor of the Warriors in action against the Manly Sea Eagles at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Warriors v Broncos
Jorge Taufua of the Sea Eagles runs the line against the Warriors at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Warriors v Broncos
Feleti Mateo is tackled on the line against the Manly Sea Eagles at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Warriors v Broncos
Kevin Locke celebrates his opening try against the Manly Sea Eagles at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
Warriors v 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.
Warriors v Knights
Knights players celebrate after their win over the Warriors.
Warriors v Sharks
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.
Warriors v Sharks
Andrew Fifita of the Sharks scores a tryagainst the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Sharks
James Maloney of the Warriors is taken from the field with a knee injury against the Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Sharks
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors is caught between the legs of Nathan Stapleton of the Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Sharks
Colin Best of the Sharks fends off James Maloney of the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Cowboys
Aaron Payne of the Cowboys scores a try past Nathan Friend and Carlos Tuimavave of the Warriors.
Warriors v Cowboys
Nathan Friend of the Warriors holds his hand to his face against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Warriors v 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.
Warriors v Cowboys
The Warriors stand in goal waiting a for a conversion during their match against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Warriors v Cowboys
The Warriors stand in goal waiting a for a conversion during their match against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Warriors v Panthers
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors is tackled against the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Panthers
Sebastine Ikahihifo of the Warriors (L) shows his disappointment as the Panthers celebrate a winning try at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Panthers
Sam McKendry of the Panthers is tackled against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Panthers
Lewis Brown of the Warriors reflects after their loss to the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Panthers
Russell Packer of the Warriors is tackled against the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Panthers
Lachlan Coote of the Panthers passes against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Raiders
Michael Luck fans show their support for his last game as the Warriors take on the Canberra Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Raiders
Josh McCrone of the Raiders in action against the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Raiders
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors reflects after their loss to the Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Raiders
Michael Luck of the Warriors reflects after their loss to the Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.
Warriors v Raiders
Ben Matulino of the Warriors scores a try during their loss to the Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium.

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.

warriors stand
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.

Advertisement

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