David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

New Zealand Warriors - Five Winters of Discontent

Thomas Leuluai of the Warriors reacts after losing to the Tigers. Photo / Getty
Thomas Leuluai of the Warriors reacts after losing to the Tigers. Photo / Getty

Another winter of discontent has seen the Warriors fall out of NRL finals calculations for a fifth straight season and the reasons why are neither new or startling.

The Warriors defence, both this season and since their 2011 grand final appearance, has been a well-worn joke that no longer inspires any laughing.

There are other associated problems that have plagued coach Andrew McFadden's side, relating to poor concentration under pressure, and unforced errors affecting almost every player at different times like a rampant virus.

As happened in Sunday's fatal loss to Wests Tigers, the Warriors have let slip results when they were there for the taking.

With Sunday's final round home game against Parramatta to come, the Warriors have leaked 561 this season at an intolerable average of 24 points per game.

McFadden's position is under threat despite him having a year remaining on his contract.

New assistant Justin Morgan was tasked with sharpening the team's tackling but he along with all players and the rest of the football department will come under intense scrutiny in yet another head-scratching post-season review.

A season that promised so much began disastrously with three straight defeats. They pegged back three wins but a sluggish start from marquee signing Issac Luke was followed by the loss of fellow new recruit Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to a season-ending ACL injury after just seven games.

The 42-0 Anzac Day massacre in Melbourne preceded the prescription pills and energy drinks saga involving six players that were dropped and made unavailable for test selection. The fallout saw veteran Manu Vatuvei granted medical leave and culminated with out of favour centre Konrad Hurrell being released in late May.

With those dramas behind them, the Warriors steadied through a nine-week run of six wins and three golden point defeats to lurk around the bottom of the eight.

But the past three weeks saw the wheels fall off as they folded unexpectedly at home to the Rabbitohs, away to last year's premiers the Cowboys, with a diabolical display against the Tigers ruining their playoff hopes.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden. Photo / Getty
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden. Photo / Getty

Publicly McFadden's players are wide in their praise and belief in his ability with many quick to point the finger of blame at themselves.

"Like today it just came down to individual executions and efforts," captain Ryan Hoffman said of both the defeat to the Tigers and their ruined campaign.

"We've had the right information and the right preparation all year.

"It's realising that you've got to play for 80 minutes. We're first grade footballers and we can't have minutes when we're not on.

"That goes for the team. We can't have moments when we lapse.

"We want to be a semi-final team and we've got to get wins."

Closer inspection of the side's poor tackling makes for grim reading and illustrates why they have fallen among the also-rans over the last five years.

They have conceded more than 500 points in four of the last five seasons, dropping 588 last year, 554 in 2013, and 609 in 2012, while they were only nine points shy of the mark in 2014.

History shows that to make the finals teams need to stay under that number. The Canberra side of 2012 is the only outfit in the last six years fortunate enough to have made the playoffs after leaking more than 500 points when they finished sixth with 536 against them.

Of the current top eight sides, the Titans have the worst defence having let in 465.
Apart from the Warriors, five of the other eight teams in the bottom half of the ladder have also leaked 500-plus points.

If the rot is to stop the Warriors need to fix this area of their game.

Do that and they have the attacking firepower to threaten the best sides in the competition but otherwise it's hard to see them breaking their premiership drought.

Warriors - Five Winters of Discontent

The Warriors have failed to make the NRL finals for the past five years along with Parramatta who last made the top eight in 2009.

Gold Coast have missed the playoffs the last six years but are currently in eighth position on the NRL ladder.

Along with the Warriors, the Raiders, Panthers and Tigers have made the finals just once since 2011.

In contrast, both the Storm (current table leaders) and last year's premiers the Cowboys (currently fourth) are set to make the finals for the sixth year running.

The Broncos (fifth) and Bulldogs (sixth) are in line to play finals footy for the fifth time in six seasons.

Warriors 2016:

Games: 23 (with one round remaining), won 10, lost 13 (43.47%).
Currently 10th, could finish as high as ninth.
Points for: 495 - Eighth ahead of Titans, Tigers, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Dragons, Knights, Eels.
Points against: 561 - Second worst behind only the Knights (772).

2015: Finished 13th

Won nine, Lost 15
For 445, Against 588

2014: Finished ninth

Won 12, Lost 12
For 571, Against 491

2013: Finished 11th

Won 11, Lost 13
For 495, Against 554

2012: Finished 14th

Won 8, Lost 16
For 497, Against 609

2011: Finished sixth

Won 14, Lost 10
For 504, Against 393

2016 record against current top eight teams: Games 13, Won five, lost eight (38.46%)

1. Storm - Two losses (21-14 & 42-0)
2. Sharks - Lost (19-18)
3. Raiders - Two losses (38-12 & 26-22)
4. Cowboys - Lost (34-6)
5. Broncos - One loss (25-10), one win (36-18)
6. Bulldogs - One win (24-20)
7. Panthers - One loss (30-18), one win (20-16)
8. Titans - Two wins (27-18 & 24-14)

Coach Andrew McFadden's record

66 games as coach
29 wins, 37 losses (43.93%)

McFadden ranks fifth overall in win percentage:

Daniel Anderson 55.43%
John Monie & Ivan Cleary 50%
Matt Elliott 44.8%
Andrew McFadden 43.93%

- NZ Herald

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