Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh McGahan: Cronk's talents answer to woes

What the Warriors need to do is go out and buy Cooper Cronk. Photo / Getty Images
What the Warriors need to do is go out and buy Cooper Cronk. Photo / Getty Images

What the Warriors need to do is go out and buy Cooper Cronk.

Unfortunately, it's not likely to happen even though the Storm and Queensland halfback is off contract, but the Warriors, and Shaun Johnson, need someone like him directing them around the park.

We're often told Johnson is learning his trade, especially on how to lead the team, but he's not a rookie any more. He's 25 and has played more than 100 NRL games but consistency is an issue.

Maybe he just needs to concentrate only on being the creative influence and leave it up to someone else to direct traffic.

Jeff Robson was brought in to do that job but it wasn't working, and he was dropped for last night's Bulldogs game. He was the fall-guy for the Warriors' poor start to the season but the issues are much deeper than that.

I didn't initially think the Warriors needed Robson, given the resources they had in the halves, but he provided some structure in the first few games.

Unfortunately, he didn't offer enough other elements and it was inevitable a change would be made. I prefer the look of a Johnson-Tui Lolohea combination and I hope those two now get some time to develop a partnership but it requires Johnson to step up more than he has.

Lolohea had been used in the halves in training for some time, so was clearly part of coach Andrew McFadden's thinking. He might not have planned to inject Lolohea quite so early in the season so you wonder if McFadden is bowing to public pressure.

Robson would have known a change was possible but was powerless to do little about it because he just didn't step up.

But Johnson hasn't done enough of that, either. He hadn't played well all season except for one half against Newcastle (this was written before the Bulldogs game).

If you look at what defines a world-class playmaker - and I think of the likes of Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler and Darren Lockyer - it's someone who can both pull off a piece of individual brilliance and orchestrate things for their team when a game is on the line.

We have seen Johnson achieve that on an individual level for both the Warriors and Kiwis but rarely see him step up for the team when they needed him. I'm now not sure if we will ever see him do that.

Stacey Jones was a player of individual brilliance but he learned how to play for his team, how to direct them around the park.

The two most important players in any team are the halves. Hooker is also critical, and the No 9 drives the forwards for the first few plays of a set, but the halves are the ones who create and control in the last couple of plays.

Lolohea is a talented individual but is quite similar to Johnson in the way he plays. He will also be targeted by opposition sides because, as much as you train in any position, you don't really know what it's like until you're in the firing line. Johnson knows all about that.

- Herald on Sunday

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Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh Joseph McGahan MBE was a renowned rugby league player and coach who represented New Zealand in no less than 53 test matches, captaining 17 of them. Beginning his career in Auckland he later moved to Sydney where he played over 100 matches for the Roosters, finishing his career in 1991 as captain-coach of the eastern Sydney outfit. Accolades were never far away from the impressive Kiwi lock and in 1987 McGahan jointly won the prestigious Golden Boot Award, the first row forward at the time to win the award. Hugh McGahan’s international career was similarly impressive coming to the fore in 1982 after scoring a remarkable six tries for the Kiwis against Papua New Guinea in Auckland. Hugh Mcgahan ended his career with distinguished honours as he was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby and later inducted into the NZRL Legends of League. He continues to write sports columns for the New Zealand Herald.

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