Tough times

When I first thought about writing this, I was tempted simply to post the picture above and walk away.

But the more I think about the game, the more intrigued I am about this match. You could even say I’m excited.

Lots of people keep telling me that 2015 is over — time to stop watching, time to give up. And I can see their point. I don’t think the Warriors will make the Top 8, and I’m under no illusions that they’ll make some miraculous comeback to win the title (although while there’s still a mathematical chance . . .). But I’ve always felt that it’s in the tough times when you really see what people are made of. As painful as it might seem, these difficult moments are the most interesting ones to watch. Everyone loses. Everyone fails. But in sport, and in life, it’s about how you pick yourself up from those failures, what you take that makes you stronger and more determined to succeed next time around.

Saturday night against the Dragons was both embarrassing and heart-wrenching. It’s been widely acknowledged, and led to story after story about the culture at the club, but now it’s time to see if these young men can respond. Can they show the desire and passion for the club that we fans want to see? Will the return of a few experienced campaigners make all the difference? Now that they’ve hit rock bottom (we hope), will they play with freedom and bring some fun back to Warrior Nation?

In terms of the on-field action, I’ve got no idea what to expect. Penrith are on an even worse run of form than the Warriors are — they’ve lost five straight — and our old friend Ivan Cleary has admitted that their playoff chances are over. They’ve got injuries and inexperience, but there’s still plenty of talented young cats — their back-row of Bryce Cartwright, Tyrone Peachey and Elijah Taylor could be the best in the game in a couple of years’ time. And we couldn’t talk about Penrith without mentioning Lewis Brown.

As for the men from Mt Smart, out goes Vatuvei and Matulino but back comes Hurrell, Hoffman, Rapira and there’s some talk of Bodene Thompson returning also. If Thompson does come back, how McFadden reshuffles the pack will be interesting. Faitala-Mariner will likely move to the bench, but I wonder if specialist 18th man Dominique Peyroux will be the unlucky one again, with Hurrell moving into the starting line-up. Hoffman’s presence should have a huge impact, especially at the defensive end where he’ll park himself next to Chad Townsend, but it remains to be seen as to whether the Warriors can muster enough attacking creativity to get across the line.

What to watch for:

There’s two for me this week. The first is James Segeyaro, and mainly that’s because I want the Warriors to be watching him closely. Think Kierran Moseley, Jake Granville, Mitch Rein — dummy-halves have been killing the men from Mt Smart this year, and Segeyaro will be well aware of that. He loves to run the ball and isn’t afraid to have a crack himself from close range. Please Warriors, don’t let him score a soft try.

The other big watch is Tui Lolohea. Chad Townsend has really struggled in the past few games, and he’s told the media this week that he’s been trying too hard to make up for the absence of Shaun Johnson. All signs point to Lolohea being let loose, and I’m very excited about that prospect. The Warriors attack has been far too predictable without Johnson’s hot-stepping — they’re not challenging defenders to make decisions, simply going up the middle, using a second-man play or shuffling it from side-to-side and waiting for a kick. Bring back the razzle-dazzle I say — at least that way if they’re not winning, we’ll be entertained.

NRL Warrior prediction:

Many of you might decide to watch the game on delay (I’ve heard there’s something called the Bledisloe Cup on at the same time and people seem to think it is important?), but I think you’ll regret it if you skip the match altogether. I’m expecting the men from Mt Smart to improve – surely it can’t get any worse than last week – and the more interesting element this week is the attitude and style of football they play. They might lose, I’ll say Penrith by 10, but I’m predicting we’ll learn a lot about which players really want to wear that Warriors jumper.

Side note:

There hasn’t been much to celebrate on the field, but let’s not forget the things this club does off it.

And for those of you that are interested (and with some time on your hands), the Warriors held their Members Forum during the week, and placed it on YouTube. Well worth a look/listen if you have the time.

Plus a few words from the coach.

Previous meeting between these two sides:



1 Sam Tomkins

2 Ken Maumalo

3 Dominique Peyroux

4 Solomone Kata

5 Jonathan Wright

6 Chad Townsend

7 Tuimoala Lolohea

8 Jacob Lillyman

9 Nathan Friend

10 Sam Rapira

11 Raymond Faitala-Mariner

12 Ryan Hoffman

13 Simon Mannering (c)


14 Konrad Hurrell

15 Albert Vete

16 Sam Lisone

17 Charlie Gubb


1 Will Smith

2 Josh Mansour

3 Lewis Brown

4 Isaah Yeo

5 David Simmons

6 Isaac John

7 Jamie Soward

8 Sam McKendry

9 James Segeyaro

10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard

11 Bryce Cartwright

12 Tyrone Peachey

13 Elijah Taylor (c)


14 Tupou Sopoaga

15 Jeremy Latimore

16 Leilani Latu

17 Sika Manu

18 Apisai Koroisau

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