Set of Six: Where's the Warriors magic gone?

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Justis Kamu takes a look at where the Warriors season has gone wrong as well as other key issues from the latest round of the NRL. Photo / Getty Images.
Justis Kamu takes a look at where the Warriors season has gone wrong as well as other key issues from the latest round of the NRL. Photo / Getty Images.

Justis Kamu takes a look at where the Warriors season has gone wrong as well as other key issues from the latest round of the NRL.

1. Warriors must find that winning formula

As quickly as the Warriors rose from last place to sit as high as tenth, they now find themselves staring at the reality of their season ending before the last round of the regular season is even played.

A loss this weekend will end all hopes of the Warriors making it to the playoffs unless they can resuscitate their season on the Gold Coast.

Their 30-22 win over the Melbourne Storm in round 20 was a statement to the competition that this under-achieving, but frightening side were creeping up the ladder with no fear.

Seven wins in eight matches had opponents checking the draw with anxiety about facing the renascent New Zealand side.

Since then the Warriors have played well errr, like the Warriors, apathetic, scratchy and lacking urgency to outperform sides who are a deprived of the size, talent and skill which they possess.

Shaun Johnson, Kevin Locke, Feleti Mateo, Ben Matulino and Mannering have been noticeably flat during their 0/3 slump.

That quintet need to whip up a concoction of that winning formula for the fans and observers who were equally in love with the side during their entertaining mid-season upsurge.

Serving up another season of playoff-less football is not what the loyalists at Mt Smart Stadium want to digest after their Saturday night clash.

2. What constitutes a sin-bin offence?

The NRL must extend on their laws or give referees more discretion to punish deliberate fouls against opponents by sending players to the sin-bin.

Under the NRL Laws and Interpretation 2013, there are four main reasons for which a player is to be temporarily suspended for ten minutes:

1 . Repeated infringements
2 . Deliberately breaking down play particularly in a try scoring position
3 . Cooling off period for a player
4 . Dissent

A fifth ground was added mid-season with striking an opponent now an automatic sin-bin offence.

On the Sunday afternoon, Cooper Cronk's deliberate tackle on Darius Boyd who was chasing an attacking kick close to the Melbourne tryline only resulted in a penalty for the Knights.

Although coach Wayne Bennett was adamant that such an intentional foul should've seen Cronk head to the sidelines.

In light of point two, as Boyd was not in a try scoring position, the call on the field was the correct one.

However, such cynical and deliberate foul play should be listed in the NRL's law book or refs should be given greater discretion to rule on professional fouls.

Otherwise we may see more Cronk like acts being performed to stop players from competing for the ball.

3. Should the Raiders have stuck with David Furner?

David Furner's five year tenure as head coach of the Canberra Raiders has come to an abrupt end.

Player-power has been the catalyst to his sacking after a player meeting was held where they decided that he was not the right fit for the side.

Their views were made known to the board who stripped Furner of his position on Tuesday evening.

Why couldn't the board wait till the end of the season to part ways with him?

The decision comes as a shock as the Raiders are still in contention for the playoffs as they are currently ninth on the competition ladder with three rounds to go.

The timing of the decision could seriously jeopardise the late Raiders run to the finals with the Sea Eagles, Warriors and Sharks to come.

Why couldn't the board wait till the end of the season to part ways with him?

Erratic off-field player behaviour has been the thorn in the side which has performed inconsistently this season.

Senior players were happy to see the back of Josh Dugan after he was sacked because of his flagrant disregard for team protocol.

Yet the Furner's soft action against Ferguson who had been told previously that he was on his last warning was said to be a decisive factor in senior players losing respect for their coach.

Assistant coach Andrew Dunnemann will take charge of the side for the remainder of the season.

4. Broncos Hoffman on the outer next season

Broncos fullback Josh Hoffman found himself in an awkward situation on Friday night after his man of the match display in the Broncos 22-12 victory over the Eels.

The Kiwis international was surprisingly stopped in a media interview when he was asked about the Broncos bids for Ben Barba and Anthony Milford.

Before he could answer the question Broncos media manager stepped in to lead him away to the locker room.

Although he has been the Broncos best back this season running for 611 metres in the last four games including 12 tackles busts in his MOM showing on Friday night.

The Broncos are pursuing Barba and Milford to put some star power in their lineup to win games consistently and put more bums on seats.

Last year the Reds surpassed the Broncos in terms of average crowd attendance with 34,000 compared to 33,000 fans per home game.

That is rather embarrassing considering that Suncorp Stadium was purposely built to house Broncos matches.

Hoffman is right to feel hard done by in light of how he has played this season.

However if the Broncos are to be a powerhouse in league again these two transfers are sorely needed to thrust new energy and hope back into the organisation.

5. Is Jerome Ropati's promotion warranted?

The demotion of Ngani Laumape to the extended five man bench is a harsh decision by coach Matt Elliott.

Laumape was caught out of position twice on the weekend and made two errors in the 26-22 loss to the Panthers.

If the decision is based on performances, Manu Vatuvei should be making way for Jerome Ropati, not the former Palmerston North Boys High old boy.

Laumape's numbers show that he is outperforming the Beast in the past three games as he has run for 301m, scored one try and made just two errors.

Vatuvei on the other hand has scored two tries, ran for 291m and made seven errors since the round 21 clash against the Sharks.

Jerome Ropati has been a loyal servant of the club for the past ten seasons and at his peak was a fine footballer.

But it's an odd decision to demote one of their side's best finishers for Ropati who doesn't have much pace or experience for a winger.

6. Team of the week - Round 23

1. Josh Hoffman (Broncos)
2. Josh Mansour (Panthers)
3. Michael Jennings (Roosters)
4. Dean Whare (Panthers)
5. Sam Perrett (Bulldogs)
6. Johnathan Thurston
7. Mitchell Pearce (Roosters)
8. James Graham (Bulldogs)
9. Andrew McCullough (Broncos)
10. Tim Grant (Panthers)
11. Isaac Liu (Roosters)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (Roosters)
13. Paul Gallen (Sharks)

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