It’s a matter of pride

Forget faith, it’s time for the Warriors to restore some pride.

It’s unlikely the men from Mt Smart will receive the wooden spoon, but it’s hard to argue they aren’t the worst team in the NRL right now. Injuries, suspension and poor performances have left the season in tatters — there’s nothing left to play for but pride. The players, the coaching staff and the fans all need a win, need something to restore a shred of positivity to the club. Yes it’s nice to watch Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and think about what might happen next year, but the last thing anyone needs is an eight-match losing streak hanging over their head in Round 1, 2016.

There ought to be a sense of desperation for this Warriors outfit on Sunday afternoon. It’s about doing whatever it takes to get that winning feeling back. We’ve often written about the emergence of young talent this season, and that this NRL experience will make these players better, but there’s a real danger that losing becomes a habit, that all these losses, missed tackles and dropped balls, are leaving permanent scars.

What can we expect from the Tigers? It’s hard to know. They’re a club banking on the emergence of the next crop of youngsters to lead them into the future, and asking their fans to show patience during the process. In Tedesco, Simona, Brooks, Moses, Sironen, the building blocks are there, but, as yet, the consistency is not.

Aaron Woods and Martin (Kapow) Taupau are the key men in the Tigers forward pack. Taupau can be especially devastating — just ask Alex Johnston — and closing down his space is crucial. No doubt Captain Mannering will be following him closely, but if the Tigers can get Marty Kapow a bit wider and attack the brittle Warriors’ edge defence, there could be huge trouble for the men from Mt Smart. I hate to think what might happen if Taupau gets one-on-one with little Mason Lino.

The Robbie Farah situation is a curious one, and it’s hard to know how much it could influence this game. On the outside looking in, dumping Farah, one of the best hookers in the game, seems crazy, but there’s obviously a personality clash or some bad blood somewhere. Normally these scenarios play out one of two ways: either the external pressure galvanises the team and the opposition cops the backlash, or disharmony spreads onto the field and infighting begins at the first sign of trouble. For the Warriors’ sake, let’s hope in this case it’s the latter.

What to watch for:

A sense of urgency. For 12 minutes last week, the Warriors were an enthusiastic, energetic side that played with freedom and fun. For the remainder of the game, they sat back and waited for the Cowboys to come at them, losing more and more confidence as the points piled up. This Warriors team does have the ability to win this match, but they’ll need to find a way to keep the energy levels high for 80 minutes and to stay positive, both with and without the ball, when the Tigers get on a roll.

NRL Warrior prediction:

Can these young Warriors give us something positive to carry into 2016? If there’s going to be another opportunity this year, Sunday is the day, against an inconsistent Tigers side prone to the same kind of errors that have plagued the Warriors’ season. Unfortunately though, the men from Mt Smart seem so down on confidence that it’s hard to picture them getting through 80 minutes without their heads dropping. How long will the Warriors hold that door open? Probably long enough. Tigers by 8

Previous meeting between these sides:

Teams

WARRIORS

1 Sam Tomkins

2 Matt Allwood

3 Dominique Peyroux

4 Solomone Kata

5 Jonathan Wright

6 Mason Lino

7 Tuimoala Lolohea

8 Sebastine Ikahihifo

9 Nathan Friend

10 Albert Vete

11 Bodene Thompson

12 Ryan Hoffman

13 Simon Mannering (c)

Interchange

14 Konrad Hurrell

15 Sione Lousi

16 Charlie Gubb

17 Sam Lisone

18 John Palavi

WESTS TIGERS

1 James Tedesco

2 David Nofoaluma

3 Kevin Naiqama

4 Tim Simona

5 Pat Richards

6 Mitchell Moses

7 Luke Brooks

8 Aaron Woods

9 Robbie Farah (c)

10 Sauaso Sue

11 Curtis Sironen

12 Chris Lawrence

13 Martin Taupau

Interchange

14 Kyle Lovett

15 Keith Galloway

16 Ava Seumanufagai

17 Dene Halatau

18 Manaia Cherrington

Photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar / Foter / CC BY-ND

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