NRL: Watson demands answers

By Michael Brown

Inconsistency raises questions about Elliott's ability to get best out of woeful Warriors.

Sam Tomkins, Shaun Johnson, Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei rue a Sharks try. Photo / Getty Images
Sam Tomkins, Shaun Johnson, Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei rue a Sharks try. Photo / Getty Images

The heat will come on Warriors coach Matt Elliott this week and owner Eric Watson is the first who wants some answers.

The Warriors were awful in their 37-6 defeat to the previously winless Sharks on Saturday.

They were their own worst enemies as they completed just 58 per cent of their sets, made 16 errors and missed 21 tackles. The upshot was they were forced to make 112 more tackles than the Sharks and teams can't do that and hope to win.

It raises questions about Elliott's ability to get the best out of his side. They have done it at times, winning seven out of eight last year and also consecutive games this year, but have also lost horribly on occasion and Watson's patience seems to be wearing thin.

"Tough day at the office @NZWarriors ... . however definitely some questions to be answered," Watson said on Twitter.

Watson and co-owner Owen Glenn want to turn the Warriors into the "best single sporting franchise in Australasia" and have invested heavily to try to achieve that.

They won't come close until the team bring success to Mt Smart Stadium and that presently seems more of a dream than reality.

The top coaches demand respect from and have the right chemistry with their players and there have been whispers of discontent within the Warriors' playing group.

Elliott's not the one making the mistakes on the park - and the Warriors have made plenty this season - but he is the one who is the most accountable and who needs to get the buy-in from his players. The Warriors' attitude is a big concern - there is a massive difference between their best and worst performances - and that often comes back to culture.

"That's a legitimate question and one that needs to be asked," Elliott told the Herald when asked if he felt his players played for him. "This inconsistent tag is not unique to me, either."

The Warriors have been inconsistent throughout their history but seemed to be turning a corner under Ivan Cleary. They went through some dry patches when he was coach but often their defeats were by close margins.

Elliott has also endured some narrow losses but also witnessed some heavy defeats, like the 62-6 hiding dished out by Cleary's Panthers and the 28-4 defeat to the Sharks last season. Their three defeats in 2014 have been inept and after Saturday they now have the worst defensive record and second-worst points differential in the NRL.

Elliott's contract expires at the end of the season and Wigan coach Shaun Wane has repeatedly been linked with the Warriors - something strenuously denied by the club. The owners will want to see progress soon if they are to offer Elliott a new deal.

Watson and Glenn acted decisively when things regressed under Brian McClennan in 2012 and chased Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy aggressively.

They are one of the best resourced clubs in the NRL, with millions having been spent since 2012 on facilities and support staff, but the only true measure is what happens on the field. And that is Elliott's responsibility.

- NZ Herald

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