Tony Veitch: 'I'm not convinced the Warriors will improve'

Simon Mannering winning a fifth Warriors Player of the Year award is a slight on the rest of the squad, according to Tony Veitch. Photo / New Zealand Herald
Simon Mannering winning a fifth Warriors Player of the Year award is a slight on the rest of the squad, according to Tony Veitch. Photo / New Zealand Herald

There's one thing you can say about Eric Watson, he doesn't shirk the hard decisions.

This week came cataclysmic change at the Warriors, even by their standards. The term 'here we go again' springs to mind, with promises of new structures, new leaders, new success.

I've heard it all before. Remember when Watson and Owen Glenn united with promises of the greatest sporting franchise in the Southern Hemisphere or when the club addressed a lack of fitness by spending $2 million on a flash oxygen training centre? How about when the club said they'd found their golden child in the form of Andrew McFadden? The years of coaching culling was over, apparently. It turns out it wasn't.

So now we have a completely different structure led by names not even associated with league. We have promises of a much-needed winning culture, a team that can be like the Storm or Broncos. As much as I want to believe that, as a long-suffering Warriors fan, I'm not convinced.

Name me any other sports team that elicits so much frustration around a lack of effort and mental fortitude. The players have told me repeatedly over the years they waver under pressure. How is that possible? Even Watson addressed the issue at the club awards during the week, saying, "when the going gets tough, these blokes take flight".

We know there are senior players on big money who need to go. We also know it's never easy getting premiership-winning talent to the Warriors, so why would they come now?

All I want for Christmas and beyond is a Warriors team who learn the value of consistency and heart, a Warriors team that looks at Simon Mannering winning a fifth Player of the Year award and see that as a slight on them. No more excuses, please, my Warriors heart can take no more.

The sad state of international league
Isn't it symbolic of where the international game sits that the Kiwis lose their coach four months out from a major campaign and it's hardly a talking point. I wasn't even sure who the Kiwis were playing this year.

That's the issue for the international game - out of sight, out of mind. Because of the almighty dollar and power of Australian broadcasters, we have not seen the Kiwis on New Zealand soil for three years, when they won the Four Nations in incredible fashion.

No one in power in league will ever admit it, but the international game is a bit-part to the NRL. It's nice when it's around, but would it really be missed if it was gone?

Honesty time

Having covered two Olympics and been obsessed with the way New Zealand has continued to grow its medal tally at four-straight Games, I tend to blow out when it comes to retaining that passion for our athletes with disabilities.

But Rio has been totally different. The free-to-air coverage on Duke has been sensational and TVNZ are saying it's rating its socks off. Brilliant.

I love using this term in my job: 'sport is about the story'. Too often, sportspeople speak in a cloak of scripted nothingness. The Paralympics is the opposite. There was the emotion of Sophie Pascoe winning another gold a week after losing her best friend and training partner.

The last 15m of Kiwi blade runner Liam Malone in the 100m was one of the most astonishing finishes I've seen. Many of you agreed. I posted it on my Facebook page VeitchyonSport and was stoked to see how many people were also blown away.

Malone took up the sport only three years ago and battled to raise the funds to pay for his running blades and make it to his sporting pinnacle.

In a time when it's easy to sit back and think life is hard, too busy and filled with work pressures, these athletes have reminded us of what inner strength really looks like.
For that, I say congratulations and thank you.

Being schooled by Graham Henry
Graham Henry used to freak me out every time I interviewed him, usually because he would school me, in a good natured way ('slow down, Tony. Too many Vs today Tony,' he would say). But once you get past the schoolmasterly demeanour, he's a thoroughly good listen.

This week, we talked all things Warriors and his new football advisory role with the club and, of course, the All Blacks. Two things I took out of our rugby chat: 1) world rugby is in trouble - Graham, not mincing words, described both the Boks and Wallabies as the worst he'd ever seen - and 2) he admitted he got his assessment of Beauden Barrett wrong.

He only ever saw Barrett as a bit-part first five-eighths with a primary role at fullback. "I can't believe how good he is," Henry said.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 27 Oct 2016 13:11:38 Processing Time: 879ms