Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh McGahan: Warriors still have potential

Ben Henry has arguably fared the best of the players promoted from the Warriors under-20s.
Photo / Brett Phibbs
Ben Henry has arguably fared the best of the players promoted from the Warriors under-20s. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Is it too late for the Warriors to redeem something from the season if they lose today against a desperate Sharks outfit?

The fact is the team has under-performed and we all know it.

The season-end debrief will highlight deficiencies which need to be remedied and it will show so-called 'progress'.

But will such progress mask the issues?

It really depends on the view you take - for example, the performance of the young players brought into first grade this season.

This same team made the 2011 grand final on the back of a run of successive victories to make the eight - then got beaten up by the Broncos in the first round of the play-offs.

Finishing sixth under that system gave the Warriors another life when the seventh and eighth teams lost and they went on to reach the final but lost gallantly to a good Manly team.

This Warriors team has still not shown the consistency to enable themselves to be called a great team. Potentially, yes, but they are not there yet.

This season has seen the introduction of Ben Henry and Konrad Hurrell into a centre pairing which has had teething problems; along with Omar Slaimankhel, Sam Lousi, Sebastine Ikahihifo and today Carlos Tuimavave.

Henry, a converted back rower, has had a good season despite playing out of position; Hurrell, who is still learning the game, has displayed bullocking power not seen since Mal Meninga was in his prime. However, defence for him is just a word at the moment - he doesn't understand its meaning.

Slaimankhel is yet to replicate his Toyota Cup form, as is Glen Fisiiahi, who has found the transition difficult. The other boys are feeling their way.

While following the vision of the club, the timing and process of the introduction of development players is still a hope situation.

The alternate view is that the development programme is working well, as seen with the number of Toyota Cup players being introduced to the NRL. Six of last season's two-time premiership winning side have successfully made the transition, with more knocking on the door.

Hurrell is continually proving a headache for opposition teams and Henry is making his 20-plus successive appearance and showing the maturity of a veteran.

The Warriors' development ethos proves there is a pathway for all players, as shown by the elevation of Slaimankhel, Ikahihifo, Lousi and Tuimavave.

The plan is working and the future is secure.

Time will tell which of these perspectives prevails.

- Herald on Sunday

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Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh Joseph McGahan MBE was a renowned rugby league player and coach who represented New Zealand in no less than 53 test matches, captaining 17 of them. Beginning his career in Auckland he later moved to Sydney where he played over 100 matches for the Roosters, finishing his career in 1991 as captain-coach of the eastern Sydney outfit. Accolades were never far away from the impressive Kiwi lock and in 1987 McGahan jointly won the prestigious Golden Boot Award, the first row forward at the time to win the award. Hugh McGahan’s international career was similarly impressive coming to the fore in 1982 after scoring a remarkable six tries for the Kiwis against Papua New Guinea in Auckland. Hugh Mcgahan ended his career with distinguished honours as he was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby and later inducted into the NZRL Legends of League. He continues to write sports columns for the New Zealand Herald.

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