Goodnight Eels, Hello Warriors

As the Parramatta Eels were virtually put to bed for 2010, there was a force emerging in their place – as the young and enthusiastic NZ Warriors continued their good form for this year.

It was groundhog day for the Eels, despite some positional reshuffles – there was still no spark and they look highly unlikely to turn on points.

Forget blaming Jarryd Hayne, the Eels can only blame themselves this time.

It’s hard to see them winning the lions share of their remaining games as they did last season, they have a tough draw, plenty of away games and aren’t showing anywhere near the form needed to win games.

But for the Ivan Cleary coached Warriors, it has been a wonderful rebuilding year thus far. Under pressure early on in the NRL season after a long stint with average results – Cleary has backed a bunch of kids this year and it’s paid off thus far.

Missing Steve Price and Brent Tate for most of the year – the Warriors have relied on the likes of Issac John and James Maloney to deliver the goods.

And hasn’t the New Zealand faithful been riding these guys home. Starved for success in recent years, the Kiwis are getting behind this exciting group of youngsters who not only have the talent – but guided by experienced heads; Ian Henderson, Simon Mannering and Michael Luck – they are rolling along beautifully.

The NZ Warriors have always had big powerful flankers, Manu Vatuvei has always been exciting to watch – but their work in and around the ruck no is their biggest asset.

They used to play a bash and barge style, with plenty of offloads and second phase. A style that can bring points, but with plenty of risk.

With Henderson calling the shots, their short inside passing and more disciplined structure is not only getting them wins, they are proving much more consistent.

It’s exciting to watch and given their youth – they will continue to get better as we near the backend of the 2010 NRL season.

While it’s doom and gloom at the Eels, the rise of the NZ Warriors is sure to see a darkhorse give the finals a rattle come September.

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