Warriors versus Storm Preview

12 09 2008

Yesterday I previewed the All Blacks versus Wallabies but there’s an equally momentous game on this weekend, the NRL playoffs with the New Zealand Warriors versus the Melbourne Storm. So here goes.  

Supporting the New Zealand Warriors over the years has been a lot like being a supporter of the Los Angeles Clippers or Atlanta Hawks. They’ve seemingly been perennial losers despite the fact that they’ve been blessed with outstanding talent. It’s one of the true league tragedies that Stacey Jones never won a title with the Warriors. They came close in 2002 but have never come close again.

This year the Warriors have squeaked into the finals though it never should have been close. Their two losses to the Rabbitohs (of all teams) meant they had to win in Parramatta for the first time since 1995. The fact that they did and ultimately did it easily suggests that they are far superior to their ranking of 8th.

We have a good forward pack starting as ever with Steven Price and Ruben Wiki. Wiki has come through his early season form slump and I thought last week he was inspirational. If this is to be his last game with the Warriors then he should be fired up.

Price is the best captain in the NRL. When he plays the Warriors are a much different team. Its no coincidence that when he missed midseason games due to Origin duty the Warriors slumped. They’ve won 8 out of their last 10 and Price has been instrumental in all of them.

Michael Luck and Simon Mannering are extremely effective at what they do which is tackle tackle tackle.

It’s in the backs where we will struggle against the Storm. We have two players of class: Manu Vatuvei and Brent Tate with our only other true star Wade MacKinnon suspended. Our halves are suspect, although Fien has played well of late. Losing Wade MacKinnon for spitting at an official hurts but it was his own fault. I hope he can mend his ways because a healthy MacKinnon is breathtaking to watch and transforms the Warriors into contenders. However I suspect that the thing that makes MacKinnon so special, his fiery nature, is also the thing that pushes him into confrontations. The Warriors have a handy backup in Hohaia but he’s no MacKinnon.

The Storm on the other hand are chock full of stars, the best of who is of course the incomparable Billy Slater. They are the number one team in the NRL for a reason and they are playing at home.

One day the Warriors will win the NRL title but it won’t be this year. The Storm are too good across the park. We beat them once this season but it won’t happen again. The Storm by 8

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