NZ Warriors roller-coaster season continues
Where to now for the Warriors?
It's hard to assess the Warriors playing group. They have all the talent in the world, but very rarely do we get to see it all.
The back three haven't been too bad this season. All of them need to work on catching the high bomb though.
The elephant in the room is the somewhat underperforming Sam Tomkins, who I think is doing OK for the most part. His passing game is brilliant and he has contributed to multiple tries already this season. His last-line defence however has been average at best. This is where Kevin Locke excelled.
Tomkins should play at five-eighth; he's too good a player not to have on the field.
In the centres it's been nothing special, except for the return of Konrad Hurrell. Hurrell showed why he's the best centre at the club against the Tigers and apparently he isn't too bad in the second row either.
Dane Nielsen hasn't shown anything special yet and it's difficult to see how he ever got into an Origin team. Carlos Tuimavave is not a centre and should never have been played there. Jerome Ropati? It's probably time he retired with all the injuries he's getting.
In the halves we've gotten pretty much exactly what we would expect from Shaun Johnson. His passing and on field kicking has been top notch for the most part, and his goal kicking has been good enough.
I do wish he'd find more ground with his kicks for touch though. 10 metres for a penalty is not enough. Chad Townsend on the other hand has been average at best; he seems well out of his depth in the NRL. His kicking game is nothing special and his running game is very difficult to watch without cringing because he nearly always gets tackled with the ball, usually at the expense of an opportunity on the outside.
Nathan Friend is another player who's been playing average. His metres out of dummy half have been practically non-existent and he doesn't have a kicking game. All the best hookers are good in at least one, usually both, of these areas. Yes, the man makes lots of tackles, but that didn't matter much against the Sharks, did it? Thomas Leuluai should be playing hooker. He runs well, kicks well, and is just as competent at tackling as Friend is. He is wasted playing at lock. Quite frankly, I think the decision to play him there was the worst of the season so far.
The forwards have been mostly good without being fantastic this season. Yes, they all had a case of the dropsies against the Sharks, but I'm going to consider that a once off for this article (no promises though).
Jacob Lillyman and Sam Rapira have been the standouts in my opinion, with good metres gained every game.
Ben Matulino and Feleti Mateo both look like they need to hit the gym as neither are currently playing very good minutes. Jayson Bukuya has looked good and is a significant step up from Todd Lowrie.
Simon Mannering has of course been named team captain again this year and has definitely looked like one of the better players going around. Unfortunately, being a good player doesn't constitute a good captain.
In the lead up to Mannering surpassing Steve Price's record for number of games captaining the Warriors, we were treated to a number articles stating how good a captain Mannering was. These articles frequently stated how Mannering was respected by the other players and was always listened to.
The problem is these are only some of the qualities a captain needs. He also needs to be inspirational and have good on-field intelligence. Judging by the team's performances and reactions to Mannering's speeches, he doesn't say anything particularly inspirational.
It's difficult to judge the man's intelligence (league related or otherwise) without knowing him, but judging by how baffled he often looks at on-field decisions, I don't think he's a brilliant reader of the game. In saying that, I don't know who would make a better captain; Leuluai maybe, but that man needs to get in the starting team first.
All in all, this season is now going to be a very serious test for this club; players and coach alike. Judging McFadden's abilities on this probably wouldn't be fair, but he has the opportunity to make a name for himself.
Otherwise, maybe Owen Glenn will get to have another crack at poaching Craig Bellamy at the end of the season. Wouldn't that be something?
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