After watching the Warriors slump to another demoralising defeat to the hands of the Penrith Panthers on the weekend, it seems like we’re watching the last five seasons on repeat. Nothing has changed.
To sum up the performance, there were signs of brilliance on attack and sloppiness and laziness on defense. They worked extremely hard to put themselves in a position to win before they shot themselves in the foot with a number of soft tries in the final twenty. The final try particularly was like watching ten-year-olds play. The Panthers put a high kick up. Kata put a good block on and Ken Maumalo just looked at it and thought someone else would get it. To me, it just looked like pure laziness.
The Warriors over the past five years seem to be in the pattern of hiring a coach, giving him a year, maybe two and then sacking him. There is no stability within the club. The youngsters coming through don’t seem to be mentally tough and willing to work hard consistently for the entire season.
The Warriors juniors have always been talented, there’s no doubt about that. Just look at their record in the Holden Cup. But one thing that has always been lacking, is the mental toughness and the ability to work hard for 80 minutes week in week out.
Something has got to change. The Warriors over the past five years have had five coaches. They’ve had Brian McClennan, Tony Iro, Matthew Elliott, Andrew McFadden and now Stephen Kearney. There is one thing all five of these coaches have in common. They’re not big name coaches. They’re just your normal NRL coach. No disrespect to them. Their bloody good coaches but the Warriors job is not for your normal NRL coach. There is something poisonous about the Warriors that have meant success is hard to come by.
This is where the Warriors need to change. I believe instead of throwing money at your big name players like Issac Luke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, and Tohu Harris to name a few, they should go after a big name coach. Not just any big name coach. The biggest, in Craig Bellamy. I know he still has a year to run on his contract but he is the perfect person to turn this club around.
Look at the way Melbourne has played over the past ten years and particularly the last couple of years. A few things stand out for me and have been reinforced this year. Melbourne can play multiple ways. They are very good at getting in the grind and going set for set. Getting on top of their opposition putting their foot on the throat and killing the game off. They can also play off the cuff and second phase football as shown by their demolishment of the Brisbane Broncos a few weeks ago. One major thing that stands out for me is, they don’t give away many if any sloppy simple tries. Simple errors are a rarity and an entire game where they’re below average occurs once a season at most.
I put this down to the coach. When Melbourne thrashed the Broncos in round 17 this season there was one moment that stood out for me. The Storm was up by 24 points in the 78th minute when they made a sloppy error and Bellamy went bananas in the coaches box. The error wasn’t going to change the game but he doesn’t want the standard to slip at any moment in the game. This culture that Bellamy has developed is through the entire club, from the first team to the under 20s. Look at the youngsters Melbourne have brought in this season. Brodie Croft, Brandon Smith and Jahrome Hughes to name just a few all have those same qualities. They work extremely hard for the entire 80 minutes and don’t make soft silly mistakes.
The Warriors and the Storm actually play kind of similar it’s just that the Storm is a lot better than the Warriors. When you tune in to watch the Warriors you know pretty much what you’ll get. They will work extremely hard for about 60 to 70 minutes of the game but there will be a period where they fall asleep and give away soft tries and frustrate you more than a French referee. How long that period is, depends on if they are having a good or bad day.
If the Warriors could bring Craig Bellamy in and give him full control of the club, meaning he controls the playing style, player signings, and player development. I think he could turn this club around. He wouldn’t accept anything short of the highest standard, which is something the Warriors, cannot do. It’s obviously possible. Look at the All Blacks, they very rarely give away soft tries or make simple mistakes. What’s the difference? The environment. One thing you always see at the end of the season is that the Warriors have a negative points differential. One big reason for this is the number of soft tries they give away.
One thing Bellamy does really well is he turns your average NRL player into brilliant players. This year he turned Josh Addo Car into one of the leagues best wingers. Last years at the West Tigers he showed glimpses of what he could do but he was just another winger in the NRL. This year he’s tearing the league apart. He’s scoring tries for fun, solid on defense and very good under the high ball.
The Warriors is a team full of potential but it will take someone special to guide them to success. The last five years has been on repeat the only difference has been the coach. It’s time the Warriors splashed the cash on Craig Bellamy before all their fans lose the faith.