NZ Warriors put on notice after second defeat

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 17/03/2014
Matt Elliot
CHRIS SKELTON/ Fairfax NZ
UNIMPRESSED: Warriors coach Matt Elliot has been vocal about his side's poor play in their successive losses and knows a lot more is expected of him and his players this season.

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Warriors players have been warned that heads will roll at the club unless they start getting results.

For the second weekend in a row the Warriors suffered a defeat, going down on Saturday at Eden Park 31-12 to the Dragons in another poor start to the season.

The club's management expected better this year. Not only did they fork out a reported $1.4 million to sign Sam Tomkins from Wigan, but they have also spent heavily retaining players who coach Matt Elliott believed could deliver glory to the club.

Last season management took a back seat when the team went through a dreadful run of just two wins from their first 10 games, including the lowest point in the club's history when they were embarrassed 62-6 by the Panthers.

But that won't happen again this year. Fairfax Media understand that management informed the players after the game at Eden Park that things must change or people will be shown the door.

Whether that extends to the coaching team is uncertain, but what is clear is that they aren't going to sit idly by and watch another campaign crumble.

Next up are the Cowboys away on Saturday night and it will require a huge turnaround to get the required result in Townsville.

Prop Jacob Lillyman says while he felt their performance was a slight improvement on their round one loss to the Eels, they're still not playing well enough.

"It was a game we were confident we could turn into a good performance and get the win, but that didn't happen unfortunately," Lillyman said.

"The fact still remains that they still out-muscled us and our defence wasn't up to scratch.

"There is so much talent here, we certainly have the ability to get out of it, but there's got to be a massive improvement.

"Man for man we need to take ownership over what happened in the last couple of weeks, so that next week we're jumping out of our skins.

"The last two weeks to be fair we've been out-muscled and to be fair this is a team that should never be out-muscled.

"That's the most disappointing thing."

Lillyman said the leadership group had already come together before the Dragons loss and says it's now going to take a united effort to return the club to winning ways.

"The senior players have been trying to [sort things out], but now it's time for all of us older blokes to step up, lead from the front and drive higher standards," he said.

"We've been training and preparing well, but obviously we need to do it better."

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Meanwhile, Warriors' utility player Ben Henry will today have a scan on his left knee, but he and the club fear he has ruptured his ACL again.

Talking on the Show yesterday, league great Andrew Johns tried to put his finger on what's going wrong for the Warriors.

"The Warriors are a unique team where they need to play off offloads and off the cuff, that suits them best," Johns said.

"I think they're playing with far too much structure and they got bogged down with the thought of playing structured football and they forget the simple thing, which is their strength, winding up and running hard."

For the Dragons, this was their second big win of the season, having defeated Wests Tigers in round one.

Little was expected from them this year and Steve Price was tipped to be the first coach sacked this season. However, they have become the surprise package.

"When you don't have any expectations on you in the first couple of games, people start to take notice," said Dragons' Kiwis winger Jason Nightingale.

"But we've always had expectations on ourselves and we always will.

"We're a very proud club and when we don't perform we understand the commitment we need to have to bring the club back to where it belongs."

- Fairfax Media

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