Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Plenty of firsts to achieve

With talk of the Eden Park curse bound to surface as the Warriors take on the Bulldogs next week, Michael Burgess looks at other firsts the club could aim for

Steve Price was named the NRL's best captain and top prop in 2007. Photo / Chris Skelton
Steve Price was named the NRL's best captain and top prop in 2007. Photo / Chris Skelton

Dally M medallist

Across their 19 years, there have been players in the mix (Stacey Jones, James Maloney) but no Warrior has won the NRL's biggest individual prize. Only three have been successful in a positional category: winger Sean Hoppe in 1995, second-rower Ali Lauitiiti in 2002 and prop Steve Price in 2007, while Daniel Anderson (coach, 2002) and Price (captain, 2007) have also been honoured.

Successful NZ coach

Almost all the good times at Mt Smart have come under Australian coaches: firstly Daniel Anderson (2001-04) and then Ivan Cleary (2006-11). Kiwis have struggled in the head coaching role at the Warriors. Frank Endacott toiled during the turbulent SuperLeague era, Mark Graham wasn't helped by a faltering administration and a thin squad, and Tony Kemp has the worst coaching record in Warriors history, with just 13 wins in 37 games. Brian McClennan also failed to live up to his billing during his only season at the helm.

Grand final victory

An NRL title remains the holy grail. However the Warriors' failure needs to be kept in perspective. The Sharks (founded in 1967), Cowboys (1995) and Titans (2007) are still waiting. Others have been in a drought for decades. Souths haven't won since 1971, Parramatta since 1986 and Canberra since their Green Machine days ended in 1994. The Warriors have been to two grand finals (2002 and 2011) since their inception.

50 per cent win ratio

This is the ultimate benchmark of consistency. Most clubs sit above the halfway mark and the Warriors (46.6 per cent) are just one of five clubs below. Not surprisingly, the 'super' teams such as Melbourne (63.4 per cent), Brisbane (61.9 per cent) and Manly (58 per cent) set the standard.

Hat-trick of NYC titles

It might not happen this year but the youth competition is one area where the Auckland club can lead the way. The Warriors are the only team to have won two Holden Cup titles and could become the first club to record a treble in the next few years.

A win in Hamilton

It's a small sample size but the round 10 match against the Bulldogs will represent the Warriors' third attempt at winning in the Waikato.

An unbeaten season

Ah ... no. It's good to aim high but this hasn't occurred since the 1959 Dragons. A more realistic, though still fearsomely difficult goal, could be 20 victories in a season, which has been achieved only four times in the NRL era: the Eels in 2001, Bulldogs in 2004, and Storm in 2006 and 2007.

A NSW rep

There have been several players selected for Queensland while based at Mt Smart, most recently Jacob Lillyman and Brent Tate, but the Warriors have never produced a player for the Blues. Maloney was seen as a strong contender for periods during 2011 and 2012 while Feleti Mateo has been tipped in the past but hasn't yet produced the consistency required by State of Origin selectors.

- Herald on Sunday

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