League: It never rains but it pours

By Dylan Cleaver

During the past week, Brent Tate and wife Lani could have been forgiven for looking out their window and wondering a) what the weather was like in sunny Queensland and, b) why the hell they weren't still there.

"It's a side to New Zealand we hadn't seen," Tate said laughing, "but it doesn't change how we feel about the place."

The saying 'it never rains but it pours' has been most apt and it could apply to the Warriors - a team that went from having only once won back-to-back games in 2008 to winning four on the trot going into last night's fixture at Souths.

Last week's victory in atrocious conditions against the appropriately-named Storm seemed to fuel a belief that the Warriors were realistic play-off contenders rather than also-rans.

Nowhere was that belief more evident than on Tate's face. Grand final winners have shown less emotion.

"It was a really important win for us. We'd been building towards that. But, really, I just love winning."

Tate has quickly established himself as the beating heart of the Warriors, a man who plays and trains on the edge. That's the reason he was brought here to join brother-in-law Steven Price and he wouldn't have it any other way.

The dividends are already being paid out to the club, who have watched Malo Solomona benefit from Tate's vast experience. In turn, Tate has got a kick out of watching Solomona make his mark on the NRL.

"I didn't realise when he scored against the Bulldogs that he hadn't scored a try yet. It's a really good sign. We've got some really good kids in the under-20s. You look at Sonny [Fai] and Benny [Matulino], they're only going to get better. There's a good core of players here and a lot of good young guys.

"Having the 20s comp here now has opened the door for a lot of them and given them a pathway into the NRL. There's some really good kids who haven't been given an opportunity yet but who aren't far off."

Tate said the Warriors connection to their under-age players was greater than what he'd seen at Brisbane and it would hold the club in good stead. For the moment, though, fans are worried about 2008 only.

"We've had our ups and downs but we've kept working really hard and that hard work has paid off a little bit. There's a hell of a long way to go, though, so we're not getting carried away."

The 26-year-old doesn't buy into the theory that the Warriors' July resurgence served only to highlight the previous two months when they performed below expectation.

"If you look at most teams this year, every team has been through a hard period. The Gold Coast started the year so great and are going through a rough patch. The Broncos were the same a few weeks back.

"What I'm trying to say is that every team will go through a stage where things aren't going great but it's how you come back from that that matters.

"We kept working really hard and believed in what we were doing and things started to turn.

"There's a bit of a danger for us because you don't want to get comfortable and think things are going to happen for us."

If things on the field are threatening to get comfortable, things at home are on the verge of going in the opposite direction.

Lani is expecting the couple's first child in five weeks. That will involve a bit of logistics.

"From about three weeks onwards, my flights to Australia will be leaving a bit later and coming home a bit earlier than the rest of the guys. I don't want to miss the birth so I've got to get all sorts of contingency plans in place."

Eschewing modern trends, the centre does not know if he'll have a Little Man Tate or girl but either way, it's front and centre of his thoughts.

"I've been sitting at home, just Lani and I, and I'm thinking 'in five weeks' time, there's going to be another person in this house'. It makes my head spin, I tell ya."

With Price just down the road, at least the Tates won't be shy of family support. He doesn't expect the change in family circumstances to change the way he's felt about his move from perennial premiership contenders to pretenders either.

"We're just really enjoying the Auckland way of life. It's been a really nice change for us and my wife and I are really settled here."

- Herald on Sunday

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