Here we go again. Another week of Warriors' lament, and a lack of hope on the horizon.

The biggest problem with the Auckland club is that no one really knows what the biggest problem is.

There are a tonne of theories around their inability to fulfil their potential, especially since 2011, but no obvious solution.

Last week's unprecedented reversal in Penrith put the Warriors in the spotlight again.


What's going wrong? Recruitment, development, culture, focus, travel, the local age grade competition, league's tiny school presence, refereeing indifference, lack accountability, a seemingly endless coaching carousel?

It's complicated. There are layers of issues that can't be fixed with a few slogans or a paintbrush.

But some things stand out.

There's no doubt the club lacks an imposing forward pack. While Australian commentators continue to pour out tired cliches about their "monsters", the Warriors' pack is one of the smallest in the NRL.

Over the past six years the club hasn't prioritised that area. League is won in the trenches - that hasn't changed over a century - but the Warriors have poured more resources and energy into other positions. The worst example was Sam Tomkins, especially as the club already had Kevin Locke and Glen Fisi'iahi, neither perfect solutions but both more than adequate fullbacks.

Signing Tomkins was like putting a new set of performance tyres on a car, when what was really needed was a replacement engine.

Significant funds have also been poured into Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran. All worth while decisions, but the cost is that the club haven't invested in the pack. Many of the forwards that have been recruited, like Feleti Mateo, Jayson Bukuya and Todd Lowrie haven't worked out.

The club lacks an identity and clear playing style, caught between the natural flair of the New Zealand game and a highly structured Melbourne Storm-type approach.

But there's a lot more. The underperformance each season only increases the pressure the following year, making it harder to blood younger players, who invariably come into a squad under pressure.

Failure has become embedded in the psyche of the club, and it's hard to shake. Defeat doesn't seem to hurt as much any more. There remains a perception the Warriors have a soft underbelly and ex-players from Australian clubs admit their modus operandi on Mt Smart visits was to limit mistakes, hold the ball, and the Warriors would beat themselves.

That started to turn in 2010 and 2011, as the club developed a harder edge (remember the "Rorke's Drift" defensive effort in Penrith in 2010, or the 2011 preliminary final in Melbourne?) but hasn't been maintained.

Remember 2014, when the club lost three of their four games to tumble out of the top eight, including a dismal final round effort at Penrith when a close defeat would have been enough to progress? Or last year, when a meek home loss to the Tigers buried their playoff chances?

Last week was another example. Dramatic comebacks do happen in the NRL, but the majority of the Warriors' squad at Pepper Stadium had already been victims of unlikely defeats and shouldn't need to re-learn such painful lessons.

"I guess as a team we do have tendency to drift in and out of games," admitted Jacob Lillyman last week. "We had been a lot better in the month before that but on the weekend we didn't do that and allowed them to score some soft tries."

Only 10 of the 2017 Warriors' NRL squad have experienced finals football, and at least three (Foran, Ben Matulino and Ryan Hoffman) won't be around in 2018.

This season was supposed to be the best shot at success in years, but the Warriors' position on the table is already precarious.

All is not lost but they'll need at least 28 points to make the finals, a long way from their position now.