Set of Six: Unconvincing Warriors' last chance

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The 2013 Warriors season will likely come to an end this weekend unless a couple of results in other games fall in their favour. Photo / Getty Images.
The 2013 Warriors season will likely come to an end this weekend unless a couple of results in other games fall in their favour. Photo / Getty Images.

Justis Kamu looks at the Warriors' bumbling season along with five other key points from the latest round of the NRL.

1. Unconvincing Warriors' last chance
The 2013 Warriors season will likely come to an end this weekend unless a couple of results in other games fall in their favour.

If they manage to gain a backstage pass to the NRL playoffs put that down to pure luck for they're undeserving of being gifted such a privilege having bumbled their way throughout the season.

The side will look to 2014 with renewed hopes but with the front office failing to secure any notable signings the outlook is not much brighter.

The proposed move for England's Sam Tomkins for next season is unlikely to go ahead with the Wigan star locked in to his current deal till the end of 2014.

A big name signing like Tomkins would've put the Warriors in the mix for the premiership top eight next season as a top class fullback is now a prerequisite to nab the coveted Provans-Summons trophy.

The fullback role is considered to be as crucial as that of the halfback or standoff. While Kevin Locke provides some spectacular thrills from time to time, his four year experiment in the position has not had the rate of success that was initially projected.

The business of sport is a costly exercise for clubs, the players and the fans who engage. The Warriors Nation are a hard-core, loyal bunch who are well overdue a title to hang in the clubhouse.

With the fate of the Warriors partly out of their hands they head into this weekend relying on two of three teams (Cowboys, Knights or Titans) to drop their respective matches.

Luck should never come into the equation but in view of the playoffs and next season's assembled playing squad the Warriors will need plenty of it (and faith) if they're to prove that they are more than just also-rans.


2. NRL nines will excite fans
The official announcement of the NRL nines yesterday in Auckland and Sydney has most league fans excited about the reborn nines concept.

The tournament will see all 16 competition teams converge on Eden Park next year for a two day event which is expected to be played in front of 100,000 fans. As expected, there has been plenty of concerns over how this tournament will stack up against New Zealand's preeminent event on sporting calendar, the Wellington sevens?

Without a tackle being made, the Duco boys, Dean Lonergan and David Higgins have a huge challenge attracting the public to the Garden of Eden but there are some key factors in their favour.

Stars
The NRL stars will be available to play making this tournament a major draw card for league and sporting fans who want to watch the top league athletes in action. The shorter version of the game will suit the likes of Robbie Farah, Todd Carney, Shaun Johnson, and Greg Inglis but will also allow for forwards Greg Bird, Anthony Watmough and Feleti Mateo to show off some of their footwork and ball skills

Duco Events
One thing you can bank on when Duco run an event is that it will be a highly entertaining, quality package. This crew led by David Higgins and Dean Lonergan leave no stone unturned to ensure that events with their company name on it is nothing but a success.

A proper sporting tournament
Can you name the winner/runner up of this year's cup trophy of the Wellington Sevens tournament? Who was the star player of this year's tournament? Hmmm.....struggling here. You're not alone either the majority of the spectators that were at the final also can't remember.

As a one-off tournament the nines won't have that effect on fans who will be out in force to actually support in their team colours rather than show up as a tellytubby or an overweight superhero.

A hotly contested event will mean that the winners will be rewarded with prizemoney and a cup for the club trophy cabinet.

That beats watching meaningless pre-season matches.

Prizemoney
It's no secret that there are a number of clubs in the struggling to keep financially afloat.
The $500,000 cash prize is a healthy injection into a club's coffers if they happen to come out on top. Fans can expect many of the marquee players strutting their stuff on the Auckland stage to guarantee that the cash goes back home with their club.

3. ASADA investigation continues
The fate of former Raiders winger Sandor Earl will become much clearer in the next few months while ASADA continues its investigations. The New Zealand Maori representative admitted to the use of peptides and trafficking of the substance during his time with the Penrith Panthers.

He had signed to play second division rugby in France next season but that contract is under threat after he was issued with an infraction notice by the NRL last week. Those players who kept close relations with Earl are said to be in line for questioning by ASADA and the NRL who want to guarantee that the competition is free of performance-enhancing drugs.

With playoffs football around the corner the competition's image would take another blow (if it hasn't had to cope with enough with already) to its image if another were to be handed a similar notice.

Let's hope that for the sake of the great game and the players in the competition that they have kept their noses clean.

4. Video referee comments a welcome introduction
Last weekend's 25th round of matches saw the trial of the video referee's post-decision comments. As with the proposed introduction of most features to enhance the experience of the viewer in front of the box it was generally met with cynicism.

Those fears were quickly put to rest in Friday's West Tigers v Rabbitohs and Knights v Broncos affairs. The third referee's post-video comments were informative and simple to understand. All the viewer wants to hear is the reasoning for the decision by the video referee before the mute button is hit.

That is what we got. Nothing more, nothing less. Long may it continue.

5. Top Booms and Busts transfers

Boom

Sonny Bill Williams (Roosters)
His signing has been a huge factor in the Roosters upsurge this season and SBW has credited for a significant influence on the club's culture change. He has dominated in the tri-colours and will be in the running for the Dally M award if not will be named as the best second rower in the competition this year.
Statistics: 20 games, 8 tries, 2036 attacking metres, 11 line breaks, 507 tackles.

Thomas Leuluai (Warriors)
A true professional, doesn't say much, leaves his talking for the field where he has won over plenty of early season doubters and the Warriors Nation. Not an out and out five-eighth in the mould that observers are used to seeing down-under but he has emerged as one of the Warriors best in the second half of the season.
Statistics: 23 games, 6 tries, 978 attacking metres, 9 line breaks, 350 tackles.

James Segeyaro (Panthers)
The Panthers livewire plays 50 minutes each week off the bench and has become somewhat of an interchange specialist. With Kevin Kingston not wanted for 2014, the Papua New Guinea International is being groomed to take over as the Panthers hooker and will be look to stamp his former club North Queensland Cowboys this.
Statistics: 23 games, 9 tries, 1462 attacking metres, 10 line breaks, 617 tackles.

Josh Dugan (Raiders)
Dugan was sacked by the Raiders but has been the one of the most outstanding players in the Red V in 2013. He's been injured for the past six weeks but is impact in a short time has been so significant that Dragons offered him improved terms on a four year contract extension til the end of 2017.
Statistics: 10 games, 6 tries, 1758 attacking metres, 8 line breaks, 63 tackles.

Luke Lewis (Sharks)
Lewis' game has had a revamp at Cronulla with the premiership winner improving for both club and state. A key cog in the Sharks lineup his introduction to the side has raised the level of his fellow forwards to become one of the most competitive pack in the competition
Statistics: 17 games, 3 tries, 1828 attacking metres, 1 line break, 436 tackles.

Bust

Braith Anasta (Tigers)
A former Sydney pinup boy his underwhelming form season doesn't warrant any mention in the newsstands. Has struggled to command a starting position and seems out of sync with his coach and teammates who are all troubled by their efforts to consistently lose games.

David Taylor (Titans)
Moving to Queensland's GC was supposed to elevate Taylor's game to the next level. Instead he has fallen way below his best, losing his form, spot in the Queensland and Kangaroos side and the respect of his teammates at the Titans who expected more from the expensive acquisition.

Tony Williams (Bulldogs)
Nicknamed T-Rex after the dinosaur he has played more like a big burly cat this season. Another whose stock has fallen in 2013, Williams was axed from NSW and the Kangaroos and is likely to be in the Tonga RLWC squad.

Joel Edwards (Raiders)
Edwards has found that the grass is not greener in Canberra who have had a raft of off-field issues to deal with. Earmarked as a potential NSW member this season, his switch to David Furner's Raiders has stagnated his development.

Eddy Pettybourne (Tigers)
A solid acquisition who was heading to the Sydney's inner west to cement his position in a first grade starting spot after mainly coming off the bench for the Rabbitohs. He featured in all games for the joint-venture club up until the 14th round where was dropped and hasn't played again this season. Has signed for Wigan for the next two seasons.

6. Team of the Week - Round 25
1. Fullback: Ken Sio (Eels)
2. Wing: David Williams (Sea Eagles)
3. Centre: Tim Lafai (Bulldogs)
4. Centre: Joseph Leilua (Knights)
5. Wing: Manu Vatuvei (Warriors)
6. Five-eighth: Aidan Sezer (Titans)
7. Halfback: Shaun Johnson (Warriors)
8. Prop: Fuifui Moimoi (Eels)
9. Hooker: Isaac Luke (Rabbitohs)
10.Prop: James Graham (Bulldogs)
11. Secondrow: Gavin Cooper (Cowboys)
12. Secondrow: David Taylor (Titans)
13. Lock: Joel Riethmuller (Cowboys)

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