The article below is the final instalment in the NRL Warrior 2017 Storylines series, where we ponder the potential storylines of the upcoming season. If you missed them, click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4
26 June 2017
Young Warriors making a huge impact
With the injury to Ben Matulino and the departure of cult hero Charlie Gubb to the North Queensland Cowboys, there were big question marks surrounding the strength of the Warriors’ forward pack going into Round 1. What good would their star-studded backline be without forwards to set the platform? But week after week, Albert Vete and Sam Lisone — affectionately known by the Mt Smart faithful as ‘The Hungry Hungry Hippos’ — have stepped up to the plate. Their stellar play has earned praise from all quarters, as they regularly find themselves in discussions regarding the most-improved players of 2017. ‘There’s no better one-two punch in the NRL right now than Albert Vete and Sam Lisone,’ said Fox Sports commentator Andrew Voss. ‘Albert’s first hit-up is must-see television, and the things that Sam Lisone can do with the ball — sometimes it feels like the Warriors have got two Shaun Johnsons on the field at once. You’d think there’d be some kind of rule against that.’
The Warriors’ backline looks outstanding — on paper, anyway. A line-up filled with enough talent to tear teams to shreds. The forward pack, on the other hand, looks rather pedestrian. Don’t get me wrong, Jacob Lillyman, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering and Bodene Thompson all have their place, but they aren’t exactly the kind of names that send shivers down opposition’s spines. As much as some commentators like to talk up the ‘big Warriors’ pack’, in reality it’s nothing more than a myth these days. But, in Vete and Lisone, and to a lesser extent Bunty Afoa and Toafofoa Sipley, the potential is there.
Do you expect Vete and Lisone to stand out this year? Or is there a different young star ready to shine?
That’s the end of the Storylines series for now, but no doubt plenty of other headlines will emerge as the season draws closer and then begins. Other than a Warriors’ title, what other storylines are you hoping to read about in 2017?