Members of Warrior Nation, I write to you today with an important announcement. At the start of business this morning, a decision was made to relieve the plain black cotton underwear formerly known as ‘my lucky underwear’ from gameday duties. This announcement comes with great regret and sadness, but it is a decision that I believe had to be made. I can assure you this is a decision that was not made lightly. Obviously this is not the way any of us had hoped this relationship would end. Despite the turmoil of recent weeks, I would hope that once the dust settles, both parties will be able to look back and remember the good times we shared. On a day like today, it is important to remember and to celebrate the past, in order to put it behind us and move on.
This is a relationship that began on 27 March 2010, and high hopes soon followed. It’s not often that I remember the specific details of any clothing purchase, or any purchase at all for that matter, but there have been many moments since that date that suggested this was a relationship that seemed destined to change the course of my life, of both of our lives, forever.
Only one day after fate brought those underwear into my life, had them nestle around my most private of areas, this happened (I realise not all of you have 15 minutes to watch old footage, but after the dreary garbage we’ve had to watch this past month, I think it’s well worth your time):
Despite that exciting start, it took us a few weeks to settle into a successful routine. Once we got on a roll, however, it was clear that together we had the power to achieve something special. Initially I had wondered whether it was James Maloney, or Ivan Cleary, who was turning this team around, but it soon became clear beyond a reasonable doubt that these underwear had taken on a larger-than-expected role in my life. They had become the lucky charm I’d always dreamed of.
The height of our success came in 2011, as I sat in my seat at ANZ Stadium — a bundle of nerves and excitement — while that plain black cotton calmly held everything in place. You might argue that we climbed the mountain too quickly, that we peaked too early, but in that moment we thought we’d only just started the ascent. We imagined we’d be at the top for quite some time.
Throughout the years there has been occasions when we almost went our separate ways. One of my closest advisors has been suggesting termination for a few years now, as the wear and tear began to manifest as signs of physical deterioration, but for me it has always been the mental side of this relationship that has mattered most. It’s been that feeling of confidence that there was always something brighter just around the corner, even when all hope seemed lost.
In 2013, a run of just two wins from the first ten rounds pushed us close to breaking point, but we rallied to finish the year with renewed hope. In later years, there always seemed to be extenuating circumstances or mitigating factors. It felt unfair to apportion the blame solely to the cotton. One instance that stands out happened back in 2015, when a washing powder mishap was followed by a Shaun Johnson broken ankle and playoff dreams were dashed. An extensive performance review took place at the end of 2016, but as we were assured that 2017 would be ‘our year’, it was decided that after many years of loyal service, the undies had earned the right to finish on a high note.
Unfortunately, that outcome has not eventuated, and the manner of defeat to Newcastle on Saturday night has left us with no choice but to act now. The underwear will be given one week to say goodbye to all his friends in the drawer, before he is cremated in a blaze of glory.
He will be missed.
It’s at times like these that we realise that everyone has an expiry date. While it is wonderful to remember past achievements, eventually we must accept that we’ve all been drinking sour milk for quite some time now, and it’s making everyone feel sick.
Once again, I must reiterate that these underwear will always hold a special place in my heart. I will never forget the day after we first met, and I would like to officially thank every strand of cotton for the effort they have put in over a number of years. You have given it your very best, and that’s all we fans ask for week after week.
SET OF SIX
1) Isn’t it just so sad that this is where we’ve ended up? Another season that promised so much and has delivered so little. After the awful display on Saturday evening, there’s a chance we haven’t yet hit rock bottom in 2017. There have been so many different levels of disappointment this year, many of which are worthy of much greater discussion at a later date. I’ll be there until the end, going down with the ship, staring out into the distance, weeping as the iceberg hits and everything crumbles all around, all the while hoping desperately to see some hope on the horizon, but at this point salvation seems a long way off.
2) Mixed messages from Stephen Kearney. He’s been preaching patience and the process all season, but after talking tough these past few weeks, he’s made just one form-based change to the side — relegating Issac Luke to the bench — for this week’s clash with the Raiders. Is there any point making threats if you aren’t willing to follow through?
3) In saying that, Nathaniel Roache absolutely deserves his chance to start. We could discuss how Issac Luke has been wildly inconsistent during his time at the club, but instead let’s focus on the fact that Roache was a bright spot on a particularly dark day. He provided an immediate spark off the bench, first at dummy half and then was even able to find a way to positively impact the game while filling in on the wing. He’s looked promising since he finally managed to extract himself off the bench, but will the club re-sign him for 2018 and beyond?
4) I hope this is the end of the Shaun Johnson bashing. It’s a fair question to ask whether Shaun Johnson is worth a million dollars a season, but when you consider that the Warriors are 0-12 without him in recent years, maybe it’s time for the critics to eat some humble pie and accept that he’s the best thing the Warriors have on attack. You only have to look at the incredibly dull attacking structures in recent weeks to realise the impact Johnson has on this side. His mere presence provides opportunities for others, and there’s few people in the game who look more dangerous when they run the ball. Johnson’s kicking game and game management have improved enormously in the past two seasons, and I have great hope this will only improve in the years to come. In short, the Warriors are unequivocally a much better side when Johnson is on the park.
5) Questionable refereeing decisions. The Warriors didn’t deserve to win that game, and most likely wouldn’t have regardless of who was refereeing, but that doesn’t change the fact there were some very strange decisions. When both players and fans are confused by the whistle, it’s a sign that something’s not quite right, and that happened with regularity on Saturday evening, particularly for decisions in the ruck, offsides and forward passes. Is there any way to improve the consistency of refereeing across the competition?
6) Adam Blair looks set to sign. When I first heard the rumours about Adam Blair and James Graham, I was sceptical. I struggled to see the value in targeting players past their prime, particularly ones that were mates with the coach and set to sign a four-year deal! While the concerns I have about overpaying veterans whose contracts will look bad in the final few years of their deal still apply, I do like that the club has targeted a player whose strengths include the ability to offload and aggression on defence. These are two glaring weaknesses in the way the Warriors have played in 2017 and, at the very least, I’m on board with targeting players with those specific skills.
FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS