Set of Six: Young Warriors show their mettle

By Justis Kamu

Glen Fisiiahi (L) of the Warriors celebrates with Shaun Johnson. Photo / Getty Images.
Glen Fisiiahi (L) of the Warriors celebrates with Shaun Johnson. Photo / Getty Images.

Justis Kamu analyses the Warriors' fourth consecutive win and looks at the other key issues from the latest round of the NRL.

1. Two wins outside of the top eight

The Warriors recent 4-0 run has seen the Knights, Broncos, Sea Eagles and the Roosters all fall victim.

A dramatic change in 'attitude' has been one of the main reasons to come out of the club about the resurgence in recent weeks.

While the intangibles of the side having made a significant difference to their on-field confidence, the biggest improvers during this winning streak has been the side's boys brigade.

The likes of Shaun Johnson, Glen Fisiiahi, Elijah Taylor, Kevin Locke, Konrad Hurrell, and Ngani Laumape are starting to show their true mettle in the big time.

All of these players bar Laumape were involved in the shattering 62-6 loss to the Penrith Panthers in round 10.

That heavy defeat coupled with their dispiriting experiences of last season's campaign has seen these young Warriors make meaningful strides recently in their development.

Johnson's talent has been clear for all to see but only this season has exerted himself as a leader, add to that his composed execution in attack.

He is slowly becoming the complete halfback.

Taylor, last week's man of the match, has been outstanding with his strong defensive work ethic.

Locke, prior to injury was slowly building to his exciting-best, (and probably spurred on by rumours that Sam Tomkins could be on his way to New Zealand), the mental lapses which formerly spoiled his game have are now infrequent.

Hurrell isn't going to bust ten tackles every weekend and score blockbusting tries but he's hanging in there and grinding out performances that have tapered in style but provide more substance.

Laumape in his debut season already looks the consummate professional but as all of his peers have found out - his second season will provide a sterner test of his playing skills.

With over half the season now complete, the Warriors turn their attention to the final ten matches of their season that will decide their playoffs fate.

The pressure on the side to secure a place in the money rounds will be extreme.

Will the boys brigade continue on their current form or is the pressure going to be too much?

2. Off-field incidents hurting the great game

The NRL surpasses Super Rugby, the A-League, and the National Basketball, in most aspects - on-field entertainment, competitiveness, the fans and even economic power.

Off the field the NRL excels too but for all the wrong reasons.

The past seven days the great game has had to endure more off-field clangers committed by players.

On the weekend, the dumb and dumber duo of Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan ended up in the headlines again with the Raiders and NSW centre being charged with indecently assaulting a woman in a Cronulla nightclub.

In Cairns on Monday night, Rabbotohs prop George Burgess was also on the wrong side of the law after smashing a car windscreen with a street sign.

This comes just days after NSW prop James Tamou was caught drink driving - allegedly almost four times over the legal limit.

This type of wayward behaviour continues to tarnish the game's image which has been hit hard over the years with the countless incidents that have occurred due to player misconduct.

The NRL should start deregistering players from their competition for repeated offenders.

The club's and the NRL are not a daycare service - third and fourth chances shouldn't be given to professionals who make consistent cock-ups.

Let them head overseas or play park football for a year to earn their stripes again.

3. Flying Fisiiahi making up for lost time

He made his debut in round one of 2011 but its taken two years for Warriors outside back Glen Fisiiahi to finally find his feet in first grade.

His potential has been evident for all who have witnessed his feats in the junior Warriors (20 tries in 26 game in 2010) and the Auckland Vulcans which led to the club signing him till the end of 2015.

However it's been a frustrating wait for fans, coaches and player himself to finally show some consistent form in the NRL.

His game changing 90 metre try and defensive effort to knock the ball out of Shaun Kenny- Dowall's hands were two plays that highlighted the freakish talent the Warriors on their books.

Confidence, injuries and struggles with adjustments to the rigours of the professional game have seen him play just 16 games in 30 months.

If he can stay in the team for the duration of the season, the Warriors will possess arguably the most dangerous back-three in the competition.

That type of strike power has the ability to cut through sides from anywhere on the field.

4. Merritt's NSW debut long overdue

Rabbitohs winger Nathan Merritt will finally wear a blues jumper thanks to Blake Ferguson's brush with the law on the weekend.

It's a selection that has been long overdue with NSW selectors preferring other wing options in the past such as James McManus, Steve Turner and Eric Grothe Jnr to Merritt who has scored 140 tries in 194 games during a careers that has spanned 11 seasons.

One of the nice guys of league, he has had plenty of support from fans and media in the past for NSW selection but has missed out each time.

This selection see's his hard work rewarded for his outstanding form but will also go some way to appeasing the indigenous community of Australia who perceive that NSW selection is harder for indigenous players to earn than a Maroons jumper.

At 30 years old he is still one of the best finishers in the game with an impressive strike rate of scoring 11 tries in 13 games this season - 1.5 tries a game.

QLD maybe opposing a smaller, lighter player than his predecessor but his support play in attack and energetic running make him a dangerous prospect in his debut appearance.

5. Weekend's picks:

Canterbury-Bankston Bulldogs v Sydney Roosters: Roosters by 6 points

Wests Tigers v Canberra Raiders: Raiders by 12 points

Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs: Rabbitohs by 16 points

Gold Coast Titans v Melbourne Storm: Storm by 10 points

6. Team of the week - round 14

1. Fullback: Beau Ryan (Sharks)
2. Wing: Josh Hoffman (Broncos)
3. Centre: Konrad Hurrell (Warriors)
4. Centre: Justin Hodges (Broncos)
5. Wing: Ngani Laumape (Warriors)
6. Five eighth: Jonathan Thurston (Cowboys)
7. Halfback: Adam Reynolds (Roosters)
8. Prop: Paul Gallen (Sharks)
9. Hooker: Nathan Friend (Warriors)
10. Prop: James Graham (Bulldogs)
11. Secondrow: Josh Papali'i (Rai(Raiders)
12. Secondrow: Ryan Hoffmann (Storm)
13. Lock: Elijah Taylor (Warriors)

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