Jason Taumalolo may be long-term answer but Warriors pack needs short-term solution
OPINION: It was a comment that would have knocked most Warriors fans off their chairs.
Midway through the second-half of Friday's defeat to the Bulldogs, one of the Australian Fox Sports commentary team broke from script by declaring that the idea of the Warriors having a monster pack was, in fact, a myth.
Of course, Kiwi viewers have known this for sometime and after years of hearing otherwise from callers across the Tasman, it was nice to know they are finally paying attention.
But it does highlight one major issue for Stephen Kearney; the lack of an explosive, dominant presence in the middle of the park.
In the three games so far, the Warriors forwards have looked vulnerable at times around the ruck. While still having more than enough opportunities to win in Dunedin, the props struggled to match the go-forward of the Bulldogs. They battled bravely against Melbourne before ultimately being ground down. And even in the win over the Knights, they were on the backfoot for significant periods.
It is an area the club has identified if their interest in signing Cowboys' Kiwi powerhouse Jason Taumalolo is anything to go by.
The Warriors are one of a host of clubs who have made enquiries about Taumalolo's future and if there's a chance of luring the reigning Dally M medallist back home, they would be mad not to pursue it.
How they would fit him, as well as off-contract halves Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran, into a salary cap that also includes Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke remains to be seen.
That is a question for another day. Taumalolo cannot help them this year and the Warriors need short-term answers.
Veteran prop Jacob Lillyman has averaged more than 150m per game but with Ben Matulino still injured, Albert Vete, Sam Lisone and Charlie Gubb need to do a better job collectively of filling the void.
With James Gavet, Toafofoa Sipley and Ligi Sao, all players with NRL experience, in reserve grade Kearney has options. But Vete and Lisone in particular are players of great promise and, in their third season of first grade, now is the time to take the next step.
It doesn't get any easier this weekend against the Dragons, who showed in last week's win over the Sharks they have a pack to mix it with the best.
TIGERS IN TURMOIL
The Warriors' start to the season has left much to be desired but it could be worse. They could be the Wests Tigers.
After seeing the back of the Tim Simona betting scandal, it hasn't taken long for the Tigers to return to the headlines, sacking coach Jason Taylor just three games into the season.
Things looked grim for Taylor last week when captain Aaron Woods, one of the club's 'big four' players who are all off-contract this season, said he wanted to know who would coach the side before committing to a new deal.
It just so happens that Woods, James Tedesco, Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses all share the same manager. Surely if they were happy with the status quo they would have signed long ago? It's player power at its finest.
Ivan Clearly has been tipped to take over, but that is not what where the connection with the Warriors end.
Assistant Andrew Webster has been appointed interim coach, having only joined the Tigers in the off-season following two years at Mt Smart.
ROOSTERS ON THE RISE
You've got to hand it to the Roosters, they are never down for long.
Having finished 15th last year, the Bondi outfit is back at the pointy end of the table after a perfect start to the season.
The club may have plenty going for it; a glamorous Sydney location, an exceptional front office and in coach Trent Robinson, one of the brightest minds in the game.
But when things go wrong they refuse to sit on their hands and in five-eighth Luke Keary and fullback Michael Gordon already look to have two of the buys of the year.
Both were brilliant as the Roosters displayed their title credentials with a thrilling win over the Panthers on Saturday.
It was a quality clash played at a brutal intensity that suggests, despite losing two of three games, the Panthers should feature at the end of the season.
One suspects only injury will prevent the Roosters from being there.