Dear New Zealand Warriors, please strengthen your forward pack. Sincerely, a battle-worn fan.

The Warriors chasing Kodi Nikorima's signature was one of the worst-kept secrets in the sport and on Friday they confirmed they had lured him away from the Brisbane Broncos.

He is likely to slot into the halves alongside Blake Green and will no doubt be an asset to the side. He is skillful, can play a range of positions and has played 86 NRL matches (22 tries) as well as 13 Kiwis tests since his debut in 2015.

That is all well and good but he is not the answer to the Warriors' problems.


Sitting in 12th place with two wins and six losses the Auckland-based side are licking their wounds this week after a 36-18 hammering at the hands of the Newcastle Knights. Most concerning to me was the way the Warriors were destroyed up the middle in that game, as they have been for much of the season.

Warriors winger Ken Maumalo is fifth in the league for total run metres this season and fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who has missed several games with injury, is 11th. Yet the team is 14th out of 16 teams for total metres run. So what exactly are the forwards doing?

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Adam Blair is on a $2 million, three-year deal and I struggle to work out what he does on the field other than give away penalties and attempt to intimidate opposing halves. That's a large chunk of the Warriors' salary cap taken up by a 33-year-old who ran 17m against the Rabbitohs in round five, 36m against the Cowboys in round six and just 13m against the Storm in round seven.

For years, Shaun Johnson served as the Warriors scapegoat. His reputation for being able to pull off the impossible left many expecting too much. His forward pack very rarely dominated, which, for someone playing in the halves, made life very complicated. Yes Johnson was inconsistent at times, but he was also playing off the back foot for the majority of his Warriors career.

During the off-season, Johnson jumped ship to the Cronulla Sharks and, to be honest, I don't blame him. The signing of Nikorima feels like a desperate bid to plug the gap that was left but he is going to be facing all the same issues.

When it comes to halves, the future looks bright at the Warriors, if they can keep them. Chanel Harris-Tavita, Hayze Perham and Adam Keighran are all young stars who have showed maturity beyond their years in their brief cameos this season and will learn a lot from Nikorima and Green.

However, until they put together a forward pack who can consistently get their side on the front foot, the Warriors' woes are likely to continue.

Leah Wilson makes a run for Rangiuru against Rangataua. Photo / George Novak
Leah Wilson makes a run for Rangiuru against Rangataua. Photo / George Novak

Rangataua and Rangiuru provide fantastic advertisement for women's game

On Sunday I covered the Baywide Premier women's rugby match between Rangiuru and Rangataua, a rematch I have been looking forward to since Rangataua beat Rangiuru by one point in the final last season. It did not disappoint.

They were easily the best two teams in 2018, destroying every obstacle put in front of them, and while I think other teams are closer this year, Sunday's game showed these two sides have the skills required to go all the way again.

It was a tale of redemption for Rangiuru, who won 29-24 and vanquished the demons of last year's final, but the free-flowing, attacking play from both sides was scintillating.

It was good to see Luka Connor back in action as well. One of the hardest hitters in Baywide rugby - men's and women's - she is a couple of games into her return from a season-long injury lay off. Formerly one of the best loose forwards in the competition for Waikite, she is now playing hooker for Rangataua and, fresh off the back of signing a 2019 Black Ferns contract, she looks to be back to her best.