NRL: Warriors on the way to 'sackings' - Johns

Matthew Johns has provided some advice for the Warriors. Photo / Getty
Matthew Johns has provided some advice for the Warriors. Photo / Getty

Former Australian international Matthew Johns believes the style of play the Warriors are adopting has them on a path to "another season of sackings and disappointment".

Johns, writing a column for Sydney's Daily Telegraph, said the teams who attack defences up the middle with speed and footwork are likely to prosper this season under the new interchange rules (teams can now use eight substitutes instead of 10) and the Warriors went "hopelessly sideways" in their 34-26 defeat to the Wests Tigers last weekend.

He said "there will be sackings" if things don't improve quickly.

"Here's the thing," he wrote ahead of tonight's game against the Broncos in Brisbane. "How can a team containing the attacking spine of Shaun Johnson, Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, a combination perfectly designed for direct, penetrative football, get it so wrong?"

He added: "The season may only be one round in but these aren't new problems for the New Zealanders. The Warriors, after appearing to be positioned for a finals finish in 2015, lost their last eight games, most of those floggings, where they displayed no fortitude whatsoever."

Johns also wondered about the level of the club's support for coach Andrew McFadden.

"Warriors chief executive Jim Doyle has come out in support of coach Andrew McFadden and his staff, but how could they not be under extreme pressure?

"The selection of Blake Ayshford ahead of Konrad Hurrell is puzzling. The Tigers' outside backs must have punched the air in relief last week on hearing of Hurrell's non selection. Konrad has his flaws but nothing gets a set of six rolling forward like the combination of big Manu Vatuvei and Konrad Hurrell on early tackles.

"This is a team who will be one of the major benefactors of the rule changes, if they revert to playing power football, which allows their key creative men to play direct.

"But rather than play to their strengths, the Warriors continually force the ball sideways, it produces errors and is keeping two of their most important players out of the football game."

Johns labelled Luke "the best momentum footballer in the NRL" but a player who was "almost totally absent" last weekend. He said the Warriors needed to build their game plan around Luke instead of halfback Shaun Johnson, who they rely on too much.

"The Warriors' fortunes will change overnight if they make Luke the focal point of their football team and simplify their attack to the middle third of the field.

"Hard, straight power-running at the start of sets of six, complimented by the creativity of Issac Luke, the speed of Johnson and the footwork of Tuivasa-Sheck on tackles four, five and six.

"Luke has to be the Warriors' most important player. Johnson is a brilliantly-gifted visual player. If Luke is able to consistently get out of dummy half, Johnson will see more opportunity than he knows what to do with."

Johns also worried about Tuivasa-Sheck.

"Tuivasa-Sheck has looked lost in a Warriors jersey. He came through a system at the Roosters where he knew his role and knew where he had to be on every play. He made more metres than any other player in the game last year, and made more defenders miss, than anyone I've ever seen. But at the Nines, through the trials and in round one, Tuivasa-Sheck just hasn't looked himself.

"He is missing his former side's structure, and like Luke, he is suffering from his current team's sideways nature. Roger may be only a few games into his Warriors career but the club needs to heed the warning signs. Let's not forget Sam Tomkins arrived at the Warriors as a genuine superstar of the English game but never ever looked comfortable and left after two years of utter frustration."

Johns offered some hope for long-suffering Warriors fans.

"When this Warriors side finally get it right, they'll beat everyone."

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