Elliott Smith: Warriors need independent views to fix their mess

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The Warriors have reached breaking point and something must be done to arrest the slide, writes Elliott Smith.
The Warriors have reached breaking point and something must be done to arrest the slide, writes Elliott Smith.

The Warriors have reached breaking point and something must be done to arrest a slide that not only appears to have halted any hope of top eight before the month of May is torn off the calendar but possibly derailed seasons to come.

As supercoach Jack Gibson is said to have once remarked about the Cronulla Sharks, the wait for the Warriors to win an NRL premiership is like "leaving the porch lamp on for Harold Holt".

This was meant to be 'the season'. It's always meant to be the Warriors season. But this season felt different to those previous. The roster was there to certainly make the top eight, if not the top four. But they've played like a team that appears to barely know each other, let alone one that knows how to win rugby league games. Don't worry about the 'will he stay or will he go' saga of Konrad Hurrell for now. That's small fry now compared to the issues engulfing the club.

The early-season form of Issac Luke in particular was poor, the ridiculous energy drink and prescription pills saga worse and the results have been diabolical.

The lowest ebb came with the defeat to Canberra in New Plymouth.. The Storm defeat might have been bigger on the scoreboard but the Raiders defeat was more pathetic. A second straight loss on New Zealand soil, a waste of the hard earned cash for Taranaki leaguies. It's clear the issues go beyond the coach, the Warriors have been beset by performance issues since day dot.

If the club was a government department, Labour leader Andrew Little and Greens counterpart Metiria Turei would be bellowing in parliamentary Question Time demanding an enquiry and frankly, that may be the best thing for the club right now.

Forget waiting until the end of the season, the sting goes out of the feelings by then. Players go on holiday or on Kiwis tours and the memories fade. Do it now and do it well. It needn't been a distraction. It's not as though the performances on the field can sink lower.

The Warriors need someone completely independent to come in and review their systems and the club from top to bottom. An enquiry that will see results shared with the club's members, other fans and the media. Publish the full written report online and allow people to make their own minds up about it and include everything - warts and all.

The best method would be to appoint someone with some knowledge of rugby league but they do not necessarily need to be intrinsically involved in the sport's community itself. New Zealander or Australian. Make it a wide-ranging report and ask questions about how the club works from top to bottom, on field and off. Is the club's mental skills training adequate? Are the players preparing the right way for matches? What does accountability look like at the club? What measurements are there for success? A review will allow everything to be put on the table and a fresh set of eyes can discover issues that fall into blind spots of managing director Jim Doyle and other officials at the club.

Players can speak candidly about the issues and why the club is struggling in an independent environment, as can coaches and off-field staff members.

Coach Andrew McFadden looks exasperated, to the point where it looks like he has given all he can give for this club and must feel like hitting his head against the grey brick walls in the Mount Smart concourse. Captain Ryan Hoffman's post match interview with Sky Television's Lavina Good was an absolute mess after the Raiders defeat, not letting Good finish asking questions while ranting about his side's attitude. He must be wondering why he moved countries, given that he's also now lost his NSW State of Origin jumper.

For some, this is the final straw for their support of the Warriors. One of the callers to our Good Chaps show on Sunday night on Radio Sport advocated Simon Mannering leave the club. Not because he's been poor, but because the regular standard-bearer's only chance of winning an NRL premiership before he retires appears to be at an Australian side.

That is a pitiful place for the Warriors to be in.

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