Hugh McGahan 's Opinion

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

Hugh McGahan: Don't place unrealistic goals on the Warriors

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The call for Matt Elliott's sacking was the overreaction a few of us anticipated. Photo / Greg Bowker
The call for Matt Elliott's sacking was the overreaction a few of us anticipated. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Warriors have unequivocal support from their long-suffering fans amid their current form.

What the team doesn't need is expectation from fairweather fans and detractors who now demand success and will not be satisfied until it's achieved.

I say leave the team to go about what they have done to date - restoring some credibility.

Less than 12 weeks ago, there was an outpouring of hostility and bitterness towards the team, but particularly coach Matt Elliott.

Why? Because of the 60-point thrashing handed out by the Ivan Cleary-coached Penrith Panthers.

The call for his sacking was the over-reaction a few of us anticipated. Matt and his assistants knew what was going on and what needed to change within the organisation.

The reality was that this team was rebuilding itself from the perils of the previous season and it was only going to take time to reinvigorate this club with an attitude change.

Only two wins had been recorded from 10 outings but were the Warriors really as bad as that record suggests?

A 30-point drubbing by Parramatta, who finished last in 2012, and a 26-point deficit to the Sharks were the worst of the defeats.

There was a 10-point loss to the Storm, who scored twice in the last 10 minutes to steal it from the Warriors, along with an eight-point loss to the Bulldogs when Josh Reynolds ran 50m to kill off the game in the final minutes. The rest of the fixtures were two-point defeats to the Roosters and Rabbitohs, coupled with a four-point loss to the Raiders.

In each of these games, there was improvement and winning doesn't mean improvement; it's a result of it. There were two hard-fought wins against the Titans and Cowboys who, in round four, were still seen as top four contenders.

The unfortunate anomaly against the Panthers blew everything out of proportion. That loss sparked a tirade of abuse, ridicule and less than objective thinking and not just from this side of the Tasman.

The long road to recovery has not reached its destination but already expectation is overriding the reality that work still has to be done.

Don't place unrealistic goalsfor this team before it has had time to catch its breath.

For all the effort extracted from these players, the realisation of the achievement hasn't dawned yet. They are still on the cusp of that achievement and no-one will be happy until they do. What that is, only they know. Enjoy the recovery and allow them room to feel free to do more; don't start demanding what to do now or what you expect.

If the club did what you expected 12 weeks ago, where would they be now? On the brink of a top eight play-off spot or a top six finish? I think not.

There is still more to do so leave the expectation to them and support their goals.

- Herald on Sunday

Hugh McGahan

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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