David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

McFadden: Warriors need to find fighting spirit

Shaun Johnson after another Warriors loss. Photo / Getty
Shaun Johnson after another Warriors loss. Photo / Getty

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden says his players need to demonstrate a fighting spirit that reflects the qualities of the club's emblem or face being cut from the club.

In the wake of Saturday's 30-18 NRL defeat to Penrith in Christchurch, McFadden lamented the lack of fight in his players during the second-half in which they let slip an 18-14 lead and failed to add to their tally while conceding three tries.

In the high pressure moments when the game was in the balance, the Warriors were unable to sustain moments of effort and desperation on defence, allowing the patient Panthers to capitalise and secure their biggest win of the season.

Particularly galling for McFadden, and symptomatic of the side's problems, was the ease in which Penrith's Tyrone Peachey ran in his third four-pointer in the 76th minute, just two plays after Tui Lolohea and Shaun Johnson had arrived in cover to cut down a flying Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

"For those guys to make those efforts and chase him down, we've got to make that count and worth something, and that's probably what disappointed me most," McFadden told Veitch on Sport on Newstalk ZB.

"We just need to learn to be a little tougher and just take our medicine sometimes and defend our line.

"It's not like we haven't put any attention on it. I've just got to find people that are willing to do it when it gets tough."

Down in 12th spot on the premiership ladder with a four and six win-loss record and 262 points in the against column - the most of any side in the competition - McFadden is fast running out of patience with players that continue to wilt under pressure.

With the club looking to redefine itself and set new standards following the recent prescription pills and energy drinks saga, McFadden and managing director Jim Doyle are determined to cull any players that cannot fulfill their criteria around what it means to be a true Warrior.

"We need to learn and fast otherwise if you don't learn then changes need to be made," he said.

"So I'm putting a lot of pressure on the players at the moment. There's already a fair bit of heat on us for other reasons but certainly guys need to understand what's most important to us.

"So what Jim was talking about, about being a Warrior, that's what we're trying to build here at the Warriors organisation, is people that want to display those characteristics. And we'll keep making decisions until we get that across the squad."

Reserve grader Konrad Hurrell's tenuous predicament should come as a warning to other players that repeated indiscretions, both on and off the field, will not be tolerated.

Responding to the Herald on Sunday's report that Hurrell is on borrowed time at the club, McFadden reiterated the need for players to demonstrate growth and maturity in their performances and behaviour or face the consequences.

"Everyone makes mistakes but you've got to learn from them and if you don't then sometimes we've got to make decisions around that that's best for the club.

"We're obviously talking to his management at the moment and certainly we've got to sort some things out. But for the time being, Konrad is contracted to the Warriors and I've got to try and get the best out of him."

Meanwhile, McFadden described wing Manu Vatuvei, who was unavailable for selection after returning from a week's medical leave, as a "week to week proposition", with no guarantee he will be ready for Saturday's game against Canberra in New Plymouth.

- NZ Herald

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