Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Warriors still in better shape than Blues

Steven Luatua of the Blues runs onto the pitch prior to the round two Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.
Steven Luatua of the Blues runs onto the pitch prior to the round two Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.

The Warriors stumped up with 40 minutes of the worst football in the league club's often horrible history...but they are still in better shape than their cross town rugby rivals the Blues this year.

Auckland football fans have had, in the main, a rough couple of decades and the roller coaster has roared into life again. The Blues have gone up-down in two rounds. The Warriors went down-up in one game.

But whereas one of these bumbling Auckland-based teams has class in a key position, the other is still at school. I don't hold out much hope for either one of them this season, but the league club has at least one serious advantage.

The Blues turned into a shambles in their second round clash against the Crusaders, a team built on fine workmanlike ideals but now trapped by the limited vision of their tradesman leader Todd Blackadder.

Blues boss Tana Umaga's rotation of his halves - after an opening win at Eden Park - was a disaster. The new Super Rugby coach needs to walk - which means scrap for every competition point with his best lineups - before he starts running with wild experiments that go against the best methods of professional football codes around the planet.

A huge point is that Umaga won't actually find out who his best halves are by swapping them around so quickly because patience and building a core way of doing things is the mantra for the position. And that takes time.

Umaga desperately needs a halves combo, and he desperately needs not to confuse both the playmakers and the players around them. There was one pass-the-hot-potato play just before Umaga made a change to his halves in Christchurch that was downright embarrassing. Under the circumstances, I'd blame the coaches for that, not the players.

As loathe as a couch critic is to hand out advice to a truly great All Black, stop shooting yourself in the foot Tana. The reason the press and other observers leapt in last week, feeling free to attack the Blues selection at such an early stage in Umaga's reign, was because it was so outlandishly stupid. The Crusaders weren't all that good. Their attack goes sideways, but by hanging on to the ball they ran the Blues out of resolve. It didn't take much though. It was very clear that the Blues are going to take some time to gel, and Umaga's initial selection methods have made the situation much worse. It is going to be a slow process.

The Warriors are already behind the eight ball, having dropped competition points to a Wests Tigers outfit that will lose more than they win this year. The Warriors' first half performance was truly pathetic.

So long as Shaun Johnson remains fit however, the Warriors will win their share of games, because he only needs half chances to shred defences. And the Warriors are more than good enough to give him a fair crack of the whip now and then.

But someone - maybe new captain Ryan Hoffman - needs to take Johnson to a quiet corner and speak very loudly to him. Johnson's opening contribution was to miss the line by trying to carve off too much territory with a penalty. It changed the flow from the outset. The home side got on a roll, and their fans responded. It was an infuriating mistake, and Johnson has to find a way to get the rubbish out of his game.

He is still a world class matchwinner in a key position however. In contrast, the Blues have so many Joe Averages in the controlling spots that their coach can't detect his best men and is giving himself false clues.


Nick Willis is a brave man. The great New Zealand runner revealed that he has been dealing with porn addiction, and how it had been ruining his life. He was under no pressure to make the revelation, and did so to help others. No matter his good intentions, the Olympic silver medallist's post will launch sniggers everywhere, of that you can be sure.

There is a touch of naivety to what Willis has done, because he said: "I guess I never realised how much interest the media would have in my Facebook post..."

Sex sells, and so do personal revelations from famous people. The combination is irresistible, but it will have the effect of allowing the message from Willis to reach more people.

Some will see this as a crazy piece of over-sharing, but the strength of character he and his wife Sierra are showing by going public is quite remarkable.

What might it help achieve? As some addiction counsellors will emphasise, shame hates exposure. Some forms of successful treatment include digging out the buried skeletons, so they no longer have power over the addict.Willis has taken this restorative concept to a very public level.

It is hard to recall a New Zealand public figure making such a deep, personal revelation, especially when under no pressure to do so. I'll admit to having sniggered myself, but I'm actually in total admiration.

There are those who will doubt whether is such a thing as porn addiction. Opening up a discussion is a victory in itself and it could lead to a greater understanding that addiction is not only confined to grog and drugs. Understand the scope of addiction, and you might watch the next TV show about hoarding or overeating with a new set of eyes.

Willis - who speaks so well about drugs in sport - is turning out to be a fascinating characters in New Zealand sports history. He's one of the very few who might be making a major difference to people's lives.

Debate on this article is now closed.

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Read more by Chris Rattue

Sort by
  • Oldest
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 25 Oct 2016 08:13:47 Processing Time: 737ms