Richie Barnett on league
Opinion and analysis from former Kiwis captain Richie Barnett

Richie Barnett: Dumping big-name players a good call

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Tony Iro. Photo / Getty Images
Tony Iro. Photo / Getty Images

By dumping some of his big-name players, Tony Iro has made a big call but, for me, the team that will face Canberra on Sunday pretty much picked itself.

James Maloney and Shaun Johnson haven't been playing well, haven't been providing the direction a team needs from its halves. Change was needed. The introduction of Pita Godinet and Feleti Mateo should give the side a new lease of life. It will freshen things up and bring some renewed enthusiasm.

I don't think it will be enough to change the result against a Raiders side that is really firing, but it should at least bring a vastly improved performance.

What we've seen in recent weeks is that a team just can't afford to have players operating at 80 per cent. It's been obvious many of the Warriors' hearts and souls just haven't been in games.

When that happens things go horribly wrong very quickly. Every aspect of the game falls apart and people are left exposed.

It's hard on the guys who are still putting in, but the overall impression is that the team simply isn't trying and everybody looks bad.

While dropping players was an obvious thing to do and the right thing to do, that doesn't mean it was easy. Iro deserves praise for having the courage to do it. He's sent a clear message that he's not afraid to make tough calls.

I suspect Brian McClennan would have pondered doing the same thing a few weeks ago. But put yourself in his position - you know your job is on the line so can you really take a punt on dumping some of your superstars? It's no surprise that he didn't.

As far as the next coach is concerned, I just don't see the likes of Craig Bellamy or any of the other supercoaches walking out on their existing contracts to join the Warriors. They don't seem like those sort of guys. Much of their success is built on their unshakeable commitment to their clubs and players.

That means the Warriors are likely to be left looking at the next tier down, and that could be good news for the likes of Iro and Stephen Kearney. Those guys have got to be in the frame.

Iro has certainly put his hand up this week.

I just hope the next coach comes in with a clear idea of exactly what he wants.

Near enough is not good enough at this club any more, that much is obvious.

- NZ Herald

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