NRL: Warriors keep the faith as Ryan Hoffman backs Andrew McFadden

By Michael Brown

Ryan Hoffman says his side took "ten steps back" after last night's loss to the Melbourne Storm. Photo / Getty
Ryan Hoffman says his side took "ten steps back" after last night's loss to the Melbourne Storm. Photo / Getty

At a time when the Warriors' defence is under intense scrutiny, Ryan Hoffman was in full defensive mode this afternoon following his side's dismal defeat to the Melbourne Storm.

It was an understandable position to adopt, given Hoffman's role as captain, but he emphasised that his side are "a good football team" who have played "some really good football" this season.

They were well short of it last night against Melbourne, when they were beaten 42-0. They conceded their third-highest number of points in their 21-year history and were held scoreless for the seventh time (three of those games have been in the last nine months).

Listen: Ryan Hoffman speak with D'Arcy Waldegrave on The Sauce

Hoffman labelled his side "soft" and "passive" but also said they had proved previously they were a good team.

"We know how to do it. We know what it takes because we have shown that in previous games that we can be a tough footy team. We just need to be consistent with it.

"Doing it for one, two, three weeks and then falling in a heap like we did last night is not good enough.

"Against the Bulldogs, we took four to five steps forward but last night, unfortunately, we took 10 steps back."

The Warriors might have lost more than just a game because the reaction from many fans and commentators has been largely caustic. It will also heap more pressure on coach Andrew McFadden, who has overseen only three wins in their last 16 games. The club have been steadfast in their support of McFadden but have also said a top-six playoffs place was the minimum standard expected given the squad they have.

It's baffling the Warriors produced their two most inept performances of the season in their first game (34-26 defeat to the Wests Tigers) and on Anzac Day when on both occasions they had so much to play for.

Hoffman, inevitably, backed his coach.

"The confidence I have in our coaching staff and the confidence I have in our systems has not diminished at all. I know we have got a good football team here because I have seen it. The next stage for us is becoming a consistent football team.

"It's our responsibility. The pressure that's going to be put on Cappy (McFadden) is totally down to what we are putting out on the football field.

"All that pressure on the coaching staff, we can't control, but we can control what they are saying and that comes down to us making sure we do what we can. It comes down to individual mentality and toughness."

One player who has it is Simon Mannering but the Warriors will need to do without him for Sunday's visit of the Dragons after he suffered a facial injury against Melbourne that required surgery - his lip was reattached to his face.

It compounds injuries to other key players including Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who is out for the season with a knee injury, and Tui Lolohea (knee).

McFadden resisted making widespread changes for the side to play the Dragons at Mt Smart on Sunday, with most due to injuries. David Fusitu'a will fill in at fullback, with Jonathan Wright taking over on the wing.

Up front, Charlie Gubb will replace Mannering in the back row and utility Jazz Tevaga and props Albert Vete and James Gavet have been recalled to an extended five-man bench. Also on the bench is second-rower Shaun Lane, who joined the Warriors from the Bulldogs in a player swap with Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

Warriors team to play the Dragons at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday: David Fusitu'a, Jonathan Wright, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman (c), Charlie Gubb.

Interchange (one to be omitted): Jazz Tevaga, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Shaun Lane, James Gavet.

- NZ Herald

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