Down but not out, prop James Gavet adamant Warriors forwards can reverse slump
Friday night's defeat to the Dragons has put the spotlight back on the Warriors forward pack but prop James Gavet insists their problems upfront are not as bad as it seems.
Apart from the opening 20 minutes in Hamilton, the Warriors were completely outmuscled by the Dragons' big men on the way to suffering a 30-14 loss that has left Stephen Kearney's side facing an uphill climb to break their finals drought.
The stats made for ugly reading for the coach; the Dragons ran for more than 2000 metres (compared to 1400 for the Warriors) while getting away 20 offloads as the home team missed a whopping 57 tackles.
The forwards are not entirely to blame but so much of a team's success in the NRL depends on winning the battle at the ruck. And, just as they have been on multiple occasions this season, the Warriors were exposed in that department.
But while it appears to be a major issue moving forward, Gavet says it's their inability to nail down the finer details which is holding them back.
"If you're doing back-to-back sets on defence or making errors in a row my seven-year-old son would be able to run through me," Gavet said.
"You can only make so many tackles and let so many offloads go before it ends up biting you in the butt.
"It all goes hand in hand. I think if we're able to manage those things - lock up the ball, simple things that you learn in junior footy - if we're able to knuckle down on those small key details then we'd be able to hang in the contest."
If there is one Warriors forward who can be proud of his efforts so far this season, it's Gavet.
The 27-year-old has been a shining light since coming into the team in round four, impressing with his aggression in attack and defence and his form has been rewarded with a new two-year contract.
Trouble is, though, he has not had enough support.
Kearney said he would wait until he reviews the tape before deciding on any changes for next week's game against Brisbane. But even if he wanted to swing the axe, there is hardly a bevy of replacements in the middle.
Charlie Gubb's inclusion on the bench for Ligi Sao on Friday had no discernible impact.
Albert Vete, who was dropped after starting the first three games of the season, is one option. As are fellow reserve-graders Toafofoa Sipley and Isaiah Papali'i, although they have minimal NRL experience with the latter only 18 years old.
On the plus side, veteran lock Simon Mannering is expected to return from a hamstring injury next week and Gavet believes his leadership will make a huge difference.
"It's a tough thing to lose someone that's captained our nation, let alone the stats he pulls out of the bag week in, week out," Gavet added.
"He has been a big loss but more so his leadership. He's been the glue of our forward pack so it would be good to get him back."
After making some encouraging progress in the month of April, the break for the representative weekend came at the worst possible time for the Warriors.
Gavet admits the last two defeats have damaged the club's confidence but was adamant that now is not the time panic.
"We were making huge strides now it feels like everything is a bit frantic at the moment, everyone's trying to do things that are out of character.
"We know that we're capable of hanging with the good teams, we've proved that we're able to come within a try of the Melbourne Storm and then beating a really good Roosters side so I think that if we just regain that belief in ourselves we can move forward."