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

Hugh McGahan: A bumpy ride but the Warriors are in better shape

Manu Vatuvei scores a try against the Raiders. Photo / Richard Robinson.
Manu Vatuvei scores a try against the Raiders. Photo / Richard Robinson.

So the rollercoaster ride continues.

The Warriors are probably the best equipped side of all the teams fighting to claim the last spot in the playoffs but that may not be enough. Going on last night's impressive display and the momentum they have now got they should be good enough to beat the Dragons next week, despite their poor record in Wollongong.

But the Cowboys are the concern. Usually they are poor travellers but it wouldn't surprise me to see Johnathan Thurston come up with a huge display today against the Sharks.

Meanwhile, as the end of the season draws near we need to ask if the Warriors have improved as a team from their 2012 performances?

Do we judge this season by their position on the NRL table or look to the future, seeking improvement and development from coach Matt Elliott, who is just one season into his initial three-year term?

If we seek the latter at this stage with the view to being consistent semifinalists, then his next two seasons are crucial.

A year ago, the Warriors were being compared with the Parramatta Eels who sacked Stephen Kearney midway through 2012, appointed Brad Arthur as caretaker coach and then ended up with Ricky Stuart at the helm.

Their fortunes have since nosedived and the club props up the bottom of the NRL table.

For the Warriors, the sacking of Brian McClennan; the drawn-out process of appointing Elliott and the discarding of the popular Tony Iro drew similar criticism and ridicule from the Australian media, fans and the doomsayers in New Zealand.

But that's where comparisons between the two clubs end. If the Eels fans and club could fast forward 12 months and be in a position similar to where the Warriors are today, they'd think they'd died and gone to heaven.

The Warriors are in better shape now to become consistent performers in 2014. The stretch of six wins on the trot, after the embarrassing Penrith massacre, is a measure of what the team can do; consistency is their nemesis and making it a habit takes time.

Consistency comes through game-day intensity training. Repeating simple drills and skills. Doing this takes a different type of discipline to that of just going out and running around and being happy with only a few dropped balls in a session.

This team have nearly completed one year under Elliott and structure and improvement are expected beyond 2013.

It is has been a bumpy ride with the Warriors for much of the year, but fans would prefer to know what is coming at the next turn. This year has been more frustrating than enjoyable. Maybe the attitude of the younger players will improve to match that of some of the seniors. Earlier in the season I thought there was some immaturity which needed attention and signs have improved to indicate there has been change. Time will tell if this is maintained.

- 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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