The men from over the ditch continue to climb the NRL 2007 table; with the New Zealand side now winning 5 from their last 6 games – to blast out of their previous mid season slump.
The Warriors while not quite as fortunate as the Melbourne Storm; do enjoy a similar level of media exclusion to the leading NRL club. The Warriors continue to play second fiddle to the Rugby Union loving Kiwi’s – but should they continue their current NRL form in 2007; a premiership title and massive local interest could follow suit.
Once again Ivan Cleary has done an exceptional job in not only getting quality talent into the NZ Warriors squad; but running a highly processed and disciplined outfit. Previous NZ sides have rarely achieved consistency and focus for prolonged periods in the NRL.
The addition of Wade McKinnon at fullback has been a relevation. The former Eel running for plenty of metres and proving a dangerous strike weapon in attack; more than ably taking over from the exciting Brent Webb. The form of Steve Price has also helped the Warriors. The Queensland veteran has had a stunning year for club and state and has carried the team on his back at times.
While Ruben Wiki hasn’t had his best year, injury may possibly hampering the Kiwi international and he again moves into the second row this week. He just can’t seem to find his feet and achieve the thrust he usually has in his hit-ups; or strike fear into opposing teams with his defence that he was famous for.
Probably best evidence of the Warriors healthy position is how many quality players they have playing in Premier League. While other NRL clubs struggle to field teams; the Warriors have the following troops playing for the Lions feeder club: Todd Byrne, Louis Anderson, Patrick Ah Van, Lance Hohaia and Tony Martin.
The NZ Warriors have also have some impressive stats from the past 5 weeks. Scoring a total of 144 points and only conceding 56, pivot Michael Witt has now kicked 25 consecutive goals (only 10 short of the Hazem El Masri NRL goal record)and back rower Michael Luck becomes only the 2nd NRL player this year behind Craig Fitzgibbon to notch up 600+ tackles; as the impressive backrower notches up 42 consecutive games for the NZ Warriors club.
All this makes for happy times at the Warriors and should they do the job against the injury ravaged Wests Tigers this weekend, things look good for a finals berth and decent tilt at the NRL 2007 title for the Kiwi crew.