Former New Zealand Warriors coach Brian McClennan has highlighted several worrying weaknesses in the wake of the Warriors' 26-0 defeat to the Penrith Panthers on Friday night.
The Warriors couldn't back up their impressive victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons, becoming just the 10th team in NRL history to go from conceding zero points to scoring zero points within a week.
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In two of their four games this season, the Warriors have been held scoreless, while a third saw them muster just one penalty try. Their near-perfect completion percentage against the Dragons slumped to 81 per cent (34/42) against Penrith, and they coughed up 14 errors, conceded seven penalties, missed 26 tackles and made just one linebreak, while they could only muster six offloads to the Panthers' 18.
The Panthers also racked up a whopping 2,223 running metres, something McClennan attributed to the Warriors' lack of defensive line speed, while he believes their backline is lacking the requisite power to eat up metres when trapped in their own half.
"When you look at the good teams, they're able to stay in the game, especially when coming out of your own 30, and they put some heat on you," he told D'Arcy Waldegrave on Newstalk ZB.
"It's a worry for the Warriors that they'll struggle to get out of their own end; their back five is too small."
The impending return of David Fusitu'a should help the Warriors, but the club lost Ken Maumalo to a hamstring injury, something McClennan argues is a concern on several fronts.
"You shouldn't be getting a hamstring injury this early. With the soft-tissue injuries, you've got to be looking at your training and your medical staff. He was a big loss because the back five aren't big – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is the exception to the rule, he's not the biggest fullback but he's absolute dynamite – but the others aren't very big. Compare them to the Roosters, whose back five are all over 100kgs, which means on kick returns they're going to really roll forward and get good metres."
McClennan praised hooker Wayde Egan's distribution and believes Tohu Harris is "outstanding", but argues that the Warriors' lack of experience in their forward pack means the likes of Harris aren't getting enough support.
"The young guys try really hard but they just come up with errors that an experienced player wouldn't do.
"[Eliesa] Katoa's got some real potential, he can bust the line, but he's young and is going to come up with some of those errors.
"They're going to need 50+ possessions to win games. They have a lot of young players in the squad, a lot of guys that haven't played 50 games. The NRL is unforgiving and fast, especially now with the new rules.
"There was nothing wrong with the effort, they just simply weren't good enough – Penrith had 60 per cent of the ball, and a Warriors team lacking that experience are going to get beaten by 20+ points."
McClennan also points to the acquisitions of Jack Murchie (signed from the Canberra Raiders) and Poasa Faamausili (on loan from the Sydney Roosters) as proof the Warriors' injury-ravaged squad currently isn't up to scratch.
"The Roosters and Canberra wouldn't let their players go if they were in their top 25, but they just go straight into the Warriors team. That tells you where the Warriors are at."