NZ Warriors Season Preview by The NZ Sports Blog (Ritchie)
2010 is shaping as the return of the bad boys in the NRL. Some people might call it second chances, some people call it allowing criminals to channel their aggression on the sporting field. Either way you look at it, there are a bunch of guys with criminal convictions, dubious acquittals, pending trials and a raft of off-field transgressions that are back playing NRL this year.
The Warriors have a former badboy in halfback Brett Seymour. The guy is a talent and by all accounts has been on the straight and narrow since arriving in Auckland. To be completely honest, their season hinges on whether or not he performs. He was sacked by the Sharks for constantly getting pissed and was sacked by the Broncos previous to that. Who is to say he wonâ€™t do it again?
No one, but the guy must know by now that if the Warriors sack him then no one else in the NRL will go anywhere near him.
Iâ€™ve read a few articles written by some â€œexpertsâ€ as to the Warriors chances. Some idiot today said they would get the wooden spoon. I think anyone who has even the tiniest but of Rugby League knowledge would probably give that dishonour to the Knights. Two of their players are now in jail for drug supply and trafficking. Not exactly the intro to the season that you want. What about the Cronulla Sharks? This side cannot notch up points in attack. Ricky Stuart and his merry-men would struggle to score in a ‘you-know-what’.
In actual fact, the Warriors hopes hinge on the fitness and form of Steve Price and Brent Tate. We won the first two games last year. Tate and Price played. Tate got injured in the third game, we lost. Price only managed 14 games last year. Enough said.
Jerome Wopati (Iâ€™m glad Peter Wopati got the sack) needs to step up. He had a terrible season but like it or not he is the best we have got. His hands let him down and when you have the likes of Vatuvei and Locke outside you then your handling skills are imperative. Expect big things from him.
Finally, Mannering is captaining the side. Price apparently didnâ€™t like it but to be honest I donâ€™t think it is going to change too much. There looks like there is a management-type group in there with Michael Luck in there as well. Iâ€™m sure it will allow Price time to focus on getting himself right and playing well. Hopefully his body will hold and he will go alright. Jacob Lillyman was less than impressive last year. He has Origin experience and what we got from him last year was mediocre. Expect him to feature heavily this year or Iâ€™m pretty sure he might have to start looking elsewhere.
Warriors wont win it, but I think they will go close.
In other NRL news, the Tigers will go alright, they have signed Lote Tiquiri who I think will waltz straight back into State of Origin and an Australian jumper. He played his last game of Union for Leicester last weekend and is expected to take his place on the wing for the Tigers next weekend. Heâ€™ll take a couple of games to get back into the swing of things and eventually move into fullback. Pretty exciting stuff.
Other bad boys with second shots â€“ Todd Carney has been picked up by the Roosters and while being groomed as a fullback by coach Brian Smith will more than likely end up playing in the halves there with Mitchell Pearce. Probably wonâ€™t be enough to get them from the bottom of the table. I think theyâ€™ll finish 14th.
The Titans have got Greg Bird after he successfully navigated through 2 court cases. He is still a good player and will be handy for the struggling NSW Origin side as well.
Daine Laurie has been released by the Tigers and picked up by the Panthers. He has plenty of potential, but snitches report that he is at short odds to misbehave and cause trouble once more.
Timana Tahu makes a return from Union to bolster an already formidable Eels outfit. Expect them to be there or there abouts near the end of the season.
Expect a fall from grace for the Dragons, knocked out early in the playoffs last year after such a good year, they have lost players like Justin Poore, Chase Stanley, Micky Paea and the ever-present Wendell Sailor and I think their depth could be challenged if injury strikes.
Finally though, I think it will be hard to go past Melbourne for the premiership. I think they look too strong. They have Inglis, Slater, Smith, Cronk, Blair, Lima, Hoffman, the list just goes on.
Iâ€™ll leave you with some predictions for how the table might look at the end of the regular seasonâ€¦
4. Gold Coast
9. North Queensland
10. South Sydney
12. St George
14. Sydney City
Oh yeah, Warriors playing a home game against the Roosters in Christchurch in Round 16. Expect a huge and very vocal Canterbury crowd. We donâ€™t get much down here but one day we are going to make the big men sit up and take notice of the huge crowds we get!! Canâ€™t wait!