Hugh McGahan: Keep the faith in the New Zealand Warriors

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Simon Mannering is tackled by Brisbane Broncos defenders. Photo / Getty
Simon Mannering is tackled by Brisbane Broncos defenders. Photo / Getty

There's been a fair bit of teeth gnashing about the Warriors over the last week and many are pointing to a 10-game losing streak but that is unfair.

Last season isn't relevant because so much has changed so it means the Warriors have lost their first two games of the season. When you look at it that way, it's not all doom and gloom and there's no point hanging the coach out to dry.

It's easy to jump on the Warriors because of their history and the fact they are the only NRL team in the country. Everyone is ready to have a crack at them.

The talk this week about the alleged "bro culture", as Graham Lowe put it, probably helped them because it allowed them to use that to deflect attention away from the real issues of their first game.

The biggest problem is out wide defensively, and that is a cause for concern.

Both the Wests Tigers and Broncos found it too easy to find gaps out wide and didn't really have to work hard to score.

There was some starch in the defence at times on Friday night but there were also some soft tries. One thing that has surprised me is Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's front-on defence and he's so far resembled a revolving door.

There were also too many little mistakes that proved costly and not enough pressure applied on their kick chases. They really should have had a few repeat sets against the Broncos and that could have made all the difference.

But I still believe. They have a good team. What I saw on Friday against the Broncos was a big improvement on the week before against the Wests Tigers and they're not that far off.

The were aggressive, hooker Issac Luke was more effective and probed more, halfback Jeff Robson played with control and kicking game was decent. It was a good performance against an excellent Broncos outfit but, unfortunately, they couldn't make it stick.

Shaun Johnson still doesn't look right, though. That spark we often see from him is missing and it looks like he is still finding his feet after last year's injury.

Getting the ball in his hands the whole time, in the way Johnathan Thurston plays, is not the right approach for him. He needs a halves partner to take some of the pressure off and that's why Robson is a good foil. As I said last week, I didn't think he was a good buy when he was signed but I have been reasonably impressed so far and his presence should help Johnson, because he is still the person capable of turning everything around for the Warriors.

It will be interesting to see what Andrew McFadden does with his backline against the Storm if both Manu Vatuvei and Blake Ayshford are out injured, with most agitating for Konrad Hurrell to get a callup.

If he doesn't, that will be telling and prove the club have major doubts about him. It would also highlight the folly of giving him a new four-year deal. He's clearly talented but has a lot of things he needs to work on.

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- NZ Herald

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