2009 = Year of the Warriors

23 03 2009

I have been telling people for months that this year is the Warriors year. Of course I have been secretly hoping that for the last decade and a half but other than a couple of notable exceptions (especially 2002 when they made the Grand Final), I never really absolutely believed they had a legitimate chance to win the title. This year I absolutely believe.

We have pace, power, skill and flair with a perfect blend of youth, (Russell Packer, Joel Moon, Manu Vatuvei etc) and experience (most notably the incomparable Steve Price and Stacey Jones). The Warriors also have arguably the best backline in the NRL: the back three of Wade MacKinnon, Vatuvei and Denan Kemp are a match for anyone, both our centres are world class while in Joel Moon we have one of the best offseason buys – especially when he is paired beside Jones and the ever steady Nathan Fien.  The forward pack is direct and strong with some solid defensive stars in Jacob Lillyman, Michael Luck and Simon Mannering. The one thing the forwards lack is a true ball player like Sonny Bill Williams or Ali Lautiti but they compensate in other ways.

The first two games of the season proved the Warriors are going to be a true force this year. They steam rolled the Parramatta Eels last week, only letting the Eels back into it when the first game of the year style mistakes crept in, while yesterday they outlasted the Manly Sea Eagles (the defending champions no less!) in Brookvale. The Manly victory was especially sweet as they beat us 4 times last year.

Despite the fact that it was riddled with mistakes (it seems that the two referee system is meaning a superfast game that all teams are struggling to adjust to – as evidenced by the numerous mistakes on both sides) the game was a true classic. It was only decided when the greatest Warrior of them all, Stacey Jones, took over the game in the final 10 minutes. Until that point he had been drifting, not making any mistakes but when he flicked the switch and set up Brent Tate with a chip and regather it was like the Stacey of old had returned. It was hard to believe he hadn’t played for the Warriors in over three years, even harder to believe that he hadn’t even played in 18 months! And then he provided the perfect bomb for the match winning try.

With Stacey Jones back and able to drift in and out of games until needed (as illustrated yesterday) the Warriors are truly dangerous. In the NBA players like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Dwayne Wade are regarded as clutch because they take over games when they’re on the line. Jones is the Warriors clutch player and they’re going to be hard to stop as a result.

The one problem I see is the effect he will have on two other integral Warriors. It was noticeable to me that when Jones came on Nathan Fien became skittish. It’s understandable really, Jones has returned to take his spot and while Fien is a more than able hooker he had made the halfback jersey his own. It almost seemed that Fien tried too hard to replicate what Jones was doing when it is not his game. I hope he settles down. The other player is the super sub Lance Hohaia. Hohaia is the perfect game changer off the bench but with Jones back is there room for him, Fien and Hohaia? Or does Ian Henderson, the regular hooker, drop out? Hohaia is injured for another couple of weeks but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Bring on the Broncos next week!

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One response

23 03 2009
Soul of Sydney

the warriors have been developing into a NRL powerhouse & will do very well this year with Jones..

I wish them all the best.. except for when souths play them..

peace

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