At the halfway point in the season, the Warriors find themselves in 5th, with eight wins and only four losses. It’s their best start to a year since 2002 — a year that finished with a minor premiership and a date at the big dance. That’s impressive company, but with a losing record over their past seven games, the worries of recent years are creeping back. So are the wheels falling off? Or is it finally our year? The NRL Warrior tries to make sense of it all with a good old-fashioned debate. Glass Half Full is arguing for optimism. Glass Half Empty is arguing that things aren’t as good as the ladder suggests.
Glass Half Full: What a start to the year!
Glass Half Empty: Don’t get too carried away.
Glass Half Full: What are you talking about? Eight wins already, with five in a row to start the season. How could you be anything but positive right now?
Glass Half Empty: Do the numbers 50–10, 32–0 and 30–10 mean anything to you?
Glass Half Full: How about a 4–1 away record? The best start to a season since 2002? Wins against all but one of the other Top 8 teams they’ve played so far this year. Should I go on?
Glass Half Empty: Please don’t. That’s more than enough numbers. Have you been watching the games lately?
Glass Half Full: Of course, I haven’t missed a game since Dave’s wedding in 2009. I did tell you she was bad news, but nobody believed me. Not for the first year at least.
Glass Half Empty: Your point?
Glass Half Full: That yes I have been watching and the Dragons win was one of the more impressive wins I’ve seen in a long time.
Glass Half Empty: That was six weeks ago.
Glass Half Full: And since then we’ve been hit by injuries and come up against three of the best sides in the competition.
Glass Half Empty: So you are admitting that the Warriors can’t compete with the best sides in the competition?
Glass Half Full: No, I’m saying that the Storm, the Roosters and the Rabbitohs have together won four out of the past six Premierships.
Glass Half Empty: What’s that got to do with anything?
Glass Half Full: It shows you that losing to those teams is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Glass Half Empty: I felt pretty embarrassed when the Storm were up 38–0 at halftime.
Glass Half Full: Shaun Johnson was out. So was Tohu Harris. Issac Luke went off injured after 16 minutes.
Glass Half Empty: And I’ve seen better defensive efforts from my son’s under-8s team.
Glass Half Full: It was a bad night.
Glass Half Empty: And I guess the Roosters and Souths games were just bad nights too?
Glass Half Full: Yeah. Aren’t you listening? Shaun Johnson missed all three of those games.
Glass Half Empty: Mason Lino is better than that pretty boy anyway.
Glass Half Full: Now you’re just being ridiculous. Johnson’s presence attracts defenders even without the ball. They’re a completely different attacking team with him on the park. And he’s back next week! We’ll be just fine.
Glass Half Empty: Yeah but for how long? Johnson’s legs are made of glass.
Glass Half Full: He hasn’t played fewer than 18 games in a season since his rookie season. Do your research.
Glass Half Empty: Okay whatever. Let’s get back to the original conversation. I don’t care about stats or injuries or anything else other than what I see with my own two eyes. And over the past few weeks, the Warriors simply aren’t playing as well as they were to start the season.
Glass Half Full: That’s fair. But I’ve just told you there were extenuating circumstances.
Glass Half Empty: Like the forwards not being good enough?
Glass Half Full: Bunty Afoa and Agnatius Paasi have been superb.
Glass Half Empty: That’s two.
Glass Half Full: And Tohu.
Glass Half Empty: If you say so. And the rest have been getting steamrolled for the past month.
Glass Half Full: I’m sick of this. They’ve played 12 games and you’re basing your entire argument off of what happened in three of them. Does the rest of the season count for nothing?
Glass Half Empty: Not exactly.
Glass Half Full: The NRL is a tough competition. Every team loses. How about the Storm? They’ve lost twice to the Tigers. Does that mean they aren’t good enough to win?
Glass Half Empty: They weren’t humiliated in those games. And they don’t have a long history of failure. They know how to win.
Glass Half Full: I hate this history argument. What does the Warriors’ record last season have to do with anything? Or the season before that? That’s like me saying it will rain tomorrow because it rained yesterday. It makes no sense. We’re talking about different conditions, different players. Almost half the team has changed from 2017. If you want to play that game, are you aware that it’s Origin time? We’re about to go on another winning streak!
Glass Half Empty: Except half the team is going to Denver for the Kiwis test.
Glass Half Full: Weren’t you just rubbishing the players? Maybe they won’t make the Kiwis.
Glass Half Empty: Did you see the World Cup? I think you’re a chance of making the Kiwis.
Glass Half Full: You realise that you all you’ve contributed to this argument is snappy comebacks and hot takes. Do you have anything relevant to say?
Glass Half Empty: I’m not sure you can handle it.
Glass Half Full: Try me.
Glass Half Empty: Okay you asked for it. The Warriors were a nice storyline to start the season. They beat a Rabbitohs side in Perth who hadn’t yet figured out how good they were, followed by a win against the Titans, who are terrible. Then they beat the Raiders, who outplayed them for the majority of that match before choking it for the third time in three weeks. The Roosters played the worst game I’ve ever seen them play, and then the men from Mt Smart did just enough at home to beat the Cowboys, who’ve been perhaps the biggest disappointment of 2018. Since then, they’ve been below average. And that might be understating it. Teams have figured out how to beat them and they don’t seem to have a Plan B. Shut down the back 3 and the entire team can’t get out of their own half. Target their starting props and the middle of the park falls apart. And once that happens, the defensive scramble the Warriors were getting so much praise for at the start of the season disappears. Would Sam Lisone make any other NRL team? Jazz Tevaga? Tevita Satae? I hate to say it but Simon Mannering is starting to look like Ryan Hoffman in his last year at the club — like that old man in your club team who means well and tries hard even though he can’t match it with the youngsters any more, but he’s too well-respected to drop to second grade. I’ll give the team credit, people thought they were a joke before the year began. But now that other teams are taking them seriously, they’ve shown that they can’t compete with the best of the best. If they scrape into the Top 8 you should be over the moon.
Glass Half Full: You are treading on thin ice with that comment about Simon.
Glass Half Empty: I did warn you.
Glass Half Full: I’ll acknowledge that the games against the Roosters and the Rabbits were worrying, but of the 12 games left in the regular season, the Warriors only play five teams currently in the Top 8, and only two of those games are away from home. Let’s say you want to be negative and say that the Warriors will lose all those matches against the Top 8 sides, and two more against the weaker teams, 13 wins would still get them to the playoffs, and then anything can happen. They’ve already beaten the Dragons, the Roosters and the Rabbitohs, three of the favourites in a competition that’s wide open. This is the best chance the Warriors have had in years, not only to make the playoffs but to challenge for the title. Doomsayers like you need to get down off your high horse and get behind the boys. I’m betting you’ll be at the front of the bandwagon again after we beat Manly.
Glass Half Empty: I’ll be listing my season ticket on Trade Me to see if I can still salvage something from the year.
Glass Half Full: You are a disgrace. I’m really not sure why I bother with you.
Glass Half Empty: The Warriors are a sinking ship. Get on the lifeboat before it’s too late.
Glass Half Full: They’re 8–4 with Shaun Johnson about to return and all the other Top 8 teams about to be impacted by Origin. There’s a great balance of experience and youth, and a sense of team unity and belief that reminds me of 2011.
Glass Half Empty: I knew this was coming. I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long. Please don’t tell me you think the Warriors will win the NRL because they all breathe together. Guess what, every player in the other 15 teams is breathing too.
Glass Half Full: I’m done with you. Warrior Nation will be a better place once you’ve departed.
Glass Half Empty: I’ll throw you a life raft in a week or two.
Glass Half Full: This is our year.
Glass Half Empty: Just like every other year.