Lack of accountability hurting Warriors

By Michael Brown

Dejected Warriors after another Sharks try during the round three NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.
Dejected Warriors after another Sharks try during the round three NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.

Warriors coach Matt Elliott has previously said he would remain loyal to his players but he said today he thinks a lack of accountability is hurting them as they contemplate a dreadful start to their 2013 NRL season.

The Warriors have as many as 12 players who might be fighting for a first-grade spot on the treatment table, which is limiting Elliott's ability to make changes to a side that has lost all three games this season.

He has made two so far this week, with Sam Rapira and Glen Fisiiahi named to start against the Cowboys, and is hopeful hooker Nathan Friend recovers sufficiently from his troublesome shoulder injury to make his first appearance of the season.

The Warriors' problems are many and varied but players have escaped the selectorial axe because of a lack of alternatives. If Friend isn't right to play against North Queensland on Monday he should play the following weekend against South, winger Manu Vatuvei (ankle) should also be available to face the Rabbitohs, centre Jerome Ropati (knee) could come into consideration the following weekend against Canberra and prop Russell Packer (bicep) and utility Steve Rapira (ear) are three to four weeks away.

"With the amount of injuries we have, the accountability is the coach getting the Tom tits with you,'' Elliott said. "At some point we are going to have to be in a position to make some changes and hopefully that won't be necessary because, with these guys coming back in the next two to three weeks, everyone else will start getting their game right.''

It hasn't been pretty so far, and their games have been littered with mistakes, missed tackles, a lack of fluency and, horribly, lack of effort. They have scored just 28 points this season - and none in the first half of their three games - but conceded 84 and the upshot is they sit rooted to the bottom of the table.

The Warriors coaching staff have looked into all aspects of their approach on and off the field but Elliott comes back to one issue.

"This is more about mindset,'' he said. "We can talk about strategic stuff but this more about the team's mindset. We have created this problem, no one else has.

"We are just not sticking to what we plan to do. When you get away from your structure you tend to make more errors so you tend to do more defence than the opposition and you get in a negative cycle.

"Our response to that is to get conservative, so guys are tight. And that brings more errors. The message is that we are not going to get out of this by being conservative.''

A lot of that responsibility falls on the halves Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai and hooker Elijah Taylor who lack cohesion and look forced in what they are doing.

Former Kiwis fullback and Herald columnist Richie Barnett has been disappointed with that trio but also fullback Kevin Locke, who he wants to see get more involved.

"He needs to front up and stop hiding,'' Barnett said. "He must lift his game. He would be one of the players that needs to add value to the side to get them out of this hole.

"He's got everything available to him but until he understands how good his is he will never achieve his potential.''

- APNZ

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