25 Apr 2019

Jamie Wall: Warriors face monumental challenge in Melbourne

5:06 pm on 25 April 2019

Opinion - We're only six weeks into the NRL season, but it's as good a time as any to check in on the Warriors.

Peta Hiku, Jazz Tevaga, Ken Maumalo, Chanel Harris-Tavita and Gerard Beale watch the replay scoreboard screen during the Warriors match against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday.

Peta Hiku, Jazz Tevaga, Ken Maumalo, Chanel Harris-Tavita and Gerard Beale watching the replay scoreboard screen during the Warriors match against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday. Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz Photosport Ltd 2019

Two wins and four losses are their return so far in 2019, and a monumental challenge coming up Thursday evening in Melbourne.

Last year's Anzac Day clash with the Storm was one to forget, as was the one before that too, so do the Warriors have any hope of making a statement victory?

Let's run the rule over what's happened so far:

  • A good first up win. In fact, a very good one against the Bulldogs on opening day at Mt Smart.
  • The 40-6 result seemed to herald a new halves combo in Blake Green and Adam Keighran, and showcased the latter's goal kicking talent. Tries were evenly shared across the park, with strike weapons Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Solomone Kata both getting across the whitewash.

    Unfortunately, it seems the blowout was more of a reflection of their opposition than the Warriors themselves - the Bulldogs have proven to be utterly horrible so far in 2019, sitting firmly at the bottom of the ladder.

    A result like that should be seen more as a given than a bright spot.

  • Consistency is hard to come by. Consecutive wins are what builds momentum, keeps the fans engaged and the media off the Warriors' back.
  • Problem is, they haven't happened.

  • This is Roger's team. The captain and star player has, despite the team's patchy form, shown just how valuable he is.
  • Since the opening round loss, most of the Warriors' attacking play has featured Tuivasa-Sheck, who currently has four tries to his name.

    To say his health is crucial to the team's fortunes is a colossal understatement. Any game he misses can probably be marked down as a loss before the ball is even kicked off.

  • Halves Idol continues. While Keighran made a bright start to his first grade career in the win over the Bulldogs, it only took two losses in a row for his time in the 6 jersey to come to an end.
  • Unfair? Probably, but it gave coach Stephen Kearney an excuse to bring in Chanel Harris-Tavita for a shot in the hot seat.

    So far CHT has been solid without being spectacular, but if the Warriors don't start winning soon then Kearney will look like a hypocrite if he doesn't switch him and Keighran back.

  • Three into two isn't working. Issac Luke, Jazz Tavaga and Nate Roache are all quality hookers, but there really isn't any need for all three of them to be in the side at once.
  • Tavaga is seemingly justifying his spot with his ability to play lock as well, but his fate may well be out of his hands given the inability of the forwards to assert their dominance on teams.

    It will likely mean that Tavaga's position on the interchange will be taken up by another prop, and Leivaha Pulu has been in good form for the Warriors Canterbury Cup NSW team.

  • Those Super League-inspired jerseys are no good. While the main strip, heritage jersey that honours the 1956 Auckland side, and even normally garish Anzac Day jersey look sharp this year, the same can't be said of the away strip.
  • Taking its design cues from the Warriors' brief dalliance with the competition that almost destroyed the entire game, the team is yet to win a game wearing the jersey. Ugly performances don't need to be made uglier, but this is the NRL, which stipulates that each team must have several jerseys per season whether fans like it or not.

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