The Warriors have completed their recruitment drive for the 2018 season so how do they stack up compared to the other 15 clubs?

There is a lot more balance to this roster than there has been in the past few seasons and I expect the side to be more competitive in 2018 but it still isn't good enough on paper at least to be a top-eight side.

The back line has a lot more depth to it after the addition of Blake Green, Gerard Beale and Peta Hiku.

Green will be a superb foil for Shaun Johnson in the halves despite agreeing to a three-year deal at 31.


I am not so worried about his performance dropping off in year three as I am in it being an unnecessary spend of the cap with youngster Ata Hingano enjoying a strong World Cup with Tonga.

Ideally Green partners Johnson in 2018 before gradually handing over to Hingano in 2019.

The Warriors will be stuck with his hefty salary in 2020 however and that impacts where they can spend in other areas but I'll get back to that later.

Beale, who will miss the start of the campaign with injury, and Hiku give coach Kearney some reliable players to fill out a back line that includes game breakers like Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

Blake Green. Photo /
Blake Green. Photo /

While hardly the type of players that will set the competition on fire, the addition of Beale and Hiku will tighten up some of the weak defending we have seen far too regularly in recent seasons. All in all there has been a decent upgrade made to the back line.

The back-row looks to have better balance to it in 2018 as well. Tohu Harris brings a strong work-rate to the position but offers a lot more creativity than former Storm teammate Ryan Hoffman. Harris also offers some leadership qualities that the club is hoping will rub off on his new teammates.

The big concern about the Warriors roster is the same issue that has plagued them the past few seasons – a lack of go-forward up front.

Many fans criticized the signing of Kiwis skipper Adam Blair but that isn't overly fair.


The Warriors knew what they were getting (and what they weren't) when they offered him a contract.

Peta Hiku. Photo: Melba Studios/Kerry Beever
Peta Hiku. Photo: Melba Studios/Kerry Beever

Blair is not a go-forward merchant. He brings line speed, will play big minutes and will pile pressure on opposing kickers on last tackle.

But the Warriors weren't able to find the big ball-carrier they so desperately needed and that will be the side's Achilles heel in 2018 again.

They really need James Gavet to continue to improve on the form he demonstrated this year while Sam Lisone and Albert Vete need to take a big step forward. Agnatius Paasi and Leivaha Pulu will bring some size to the pack but are not players that will get a set rolling.

The signing of Green has ruled out the Warriors finding that big prop they covet but there also didn't appear to be too many players that fit the bill available.

While that might be something they have to accept for 2018, the three-year deal for Green hurts them trying to find that prop in the coming seasons too. In fact there will be some big decisions looming for new chief executive Cameron George and recently-appointed general manager of football Brian Smith.

Stars Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Simon Mannering and Issac Luke are all off-contract at the end of 2018 and represent the majority of cap space coming off the roster this time next year.

Not only are those players among the club's best players they also hold key positions and positions that occupy big cap space to fill.

If the Warriors opted to go in a different direction to Luke for example it isn't likely that they save a lot of money because they'd need a replacement hooker, which is expensive. Likewise if Tuivasa-Sheck left or Mannering retired, replacements are just as costly. With Hingano looking like a quality player in the making, the Green signing might well come back to bite the club when it looks to put together its future roster.

I wouldn't completely rule out a top eight finish (like I did in 2017) because this roster is likely to be harder to beat but the problem the Warriors have is that most of the sides that missed the playoffs this year will be significantly better next year too.

The Knights have added plenty of talent – Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga, Aiden Guerra and Connor Watson to name a few. The Tigers will be much better in year two of Ivan Cleary's re-build. I think the Titans will improve without the distraction of Jarryd Hayne, which will allow promising playmaker Ash Taylor to take control, while Garth Brennan is an astute coaching appointment. The Rabbitohs will have a healthy Greg Inglis and have added the impressive Dane Gagai while the Dragons will be better with Ben Hunt in the halves and English prop James Graham up front.

The Raiders haven't done much with their recruitment but under-achieved in 2017 so we can expect them to be better next year. The Bulldogs have added Kangaroos prop Aaron Woods and former Warriors five-eighth Kieran Foran but I'm not sold on their roster and expect them to remain in the bottom half of the ladder.

The coming season will be an intriguing one on the park but just what moves the club makes off it could be just as interesting as that will determine where the club is positioned for 2019 and beyond.