It is time to blow up this Warriors roster and start again.
They've tried everything - changing coaches, signed big name stars, and tried to promote local juniors but it has failed. And it will continue to fail until they get a roster that will work together.
For years now the Warriors have gone out and signed good players but I question the reasoning behind many of these signings. They've looked at individuals with good records or promise. They've assessed players as to whether they are individually good or not but I wonder if they have started first by looking at what skillsets they need and then looked to find a player that fits the bill. They certainly haven't assembled a side that has balance to it. On paper the Warriors look like a leading side but there is no winning DNA in this team. They are a team of individuals so time to blow it up and start again.
Fans will talk about getting the Kiwi spine together - yes they are yet to have all four play together yet but it won't make a blind bit of difference. That spine cannot make forwards hold onto the ball. It cannot make outside backs make the appropriate defensive reads. It will struggle to replicate the success it had as a combination for the Kiwis a couple of years ago when it doesn't play behind the dominant Kiwi pack of the time.
The Warriors forward pack might well be the worst in the NRL. Seriously - I'd take the Bulldogs and Knights over this Warriors pack. There is serious potential about the Knights pack if they can get through some growing pains.
Issac Luke is one of the premier hookers in the world if he's playing behind a good pack. He spent most of his career behind a big Rabbitohs side and looked terrific. He is a ball-runner not a structured creator like Cameron Smith. If the opportunities to run are limited like they are at the Warriors, Luke will struggle and he isn't likely to help out an under-strength pack get better. He isn't the right fit for this side right now. This is what I mean about their signings. Luke is great if you have a decent pack but the wrong fit if the pack is mediocre.
The same can be said about Shaun Johnson. Are there limitations to his game? Sure. Is he going to pick this side up and carry it to the Promised Land? No chance. I'm not going to roast him - it isn't his fault he hasn't got the weapons to work with. He will play well when he has time with the ball and a retreating defensive line. He won't be great if his pack isn't carrying him forward. He's off-contract so should the Warriors re-sign him? To me they should only extend his stay if they can get him long-term and if they promise to prioritise a mobile and dominant pack as their next most important play - to do that they might have to let go other big names.
And here lies the issue. I'd love to say dump Hoffman, Lillyman, Vatuvei, Kata, Lolohea, Maumalo, Ayshford, Matulino, Thompson etc. Problem is they are committed to those players from a cap space perspective. They won't get that cap space back until their existing deals expire or you work out a release. Maybe Jim Doyle is trying to do the latter with certain players at present. Good luck to him. It is always hard to move a player playing below his potential and not have to swallow the valuable cap space.
The Warriors have some cap space to play with for 2018 - a lot of it thanks to star halves Johnson and Foran being off-contract. Throw in Hoffman's salary and a few other bits and pieces and they have some options open even after signing Storm back-rower Tohu Harris. Signing replacement halves is obviously vital - they command the most money and win you games (assuming you have a half decent pack). I assume the Warriors would love to re-sign Johnson and will wait and hope that Foran gets back to his best. Problem is in the interim other free agents are getting snapped up. In the past week or so we've seen Jesse Bromwich, Jason Taumalolo, Jordan McLean, Dale Finucane, Anthony Milford etc ink new deals. The Warriors simply can't afford to wait any longer. They need to be out there getting something done now.
I'd try and get Johnson's deal done and then I'd try and sort out this forward pack. They waited a week too long - Taumalolo, McLean, Bromwich, Finucane are among the cream of the crop in terms of free agency.
Most teams want a big bopper prop to carry you forward through sheer size and power. If you get that you could carry a smaller, harder working and more mobile prop alongside. You want a tackle machine lock, a ball-playing offense-minded second-rower and a hard-hitting defensive-minded partner alongside. Then you want impact off the bench. In Simon Mannering they have the tackle machine. Sam Lisone and James Gavet have had impact off the bench and they don't command much cap space. So time to go out and find the best available players to fill those other roles based on your cap space.
It's a shame they didn't figure that out before the best options found new homes last week.