Aah, the dark arts of Aotearoa Warriors fandom has well and truly returned. A hoo-hum display in losing to Newcastle Knights 18-36 didn't bring up all that Warriors angst that we have tucked away in our loins ... because we've dealt with that a few times this season, it amplified everything we despise in our footy club. Don't get me wrong as I'm still open minded about where things go in the next month or two, especially with Kodi Nikorima's arrival, but there are some funky smell permeating from Mt Smart.
Lack of execution and sporadic dips in energy levels are acceptable. It's incredibly difficult to sustain a high level of footy in the NRL and a dose of realism is required to assess footy teams. The Warriors have moved past this though and the most worrying thing for me is the general absence of intensity, energy, buzz. This feels like a decent footy team that has a vitamin deficiency and there is some level of disconnect between whatever coach Stephen Kearney and his staff want, with what is being delivered.
I don't really care where the fault sits, I'm just pondering how this group can appear so meh. When the game was on the line, Newcastle sustained their play while the Warriors tuned out and then, with a slither of hope still in tact, the Warriors imploded with errors. Warriors darkness, a depressive state that clouds over Mt Smart stadium as if ol' mate Night King was circling high above.
The vibe angle, sucks. The only vibes coming from that performance vs Newcastle were crappy old Warriors vibes, the type that everyone should be ashamed of.
The performance angle also kinda sucks. The Warriors only dished up 6 offloads - which is fine and Newcastle are among the best teams at stopping offloads - but then came up with a 75 percent completion rate and 8 errors. If the Warriors aren't offloading and they are still making double the errors of their opposition, that's weird.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was quiet with 14runs/96m and most of the forwards couldn't make a dent in Newcastle's defence. No Warriors forward averaged 10m/run, although Agnatius Paasi and Leeson Ah Mau came very close and if we extrapolate that out further, no Warriors player averaged 10m/run, although Ken Maumalo also came very close.
Point being if energy levels are visibly low in support play, covering holes in defence etc and then it's reinforced in running efficiency, we have an issue. Some did their jobs in carting the footy up, most of the Warriors were passive, meh meh meh. An NRL team will also struggle when one bloke in Blake Green has 10 kicks, while his halves partner has 1 kick. Chanel Harris-Tavita and Tuivasa-Sheck had 1 kick each, limiting how the Warriors could control the game.
Given that Harris-Tavita was also yanked after 68mins for Hayze Perham, we can draw comfort from the arrival of Nikorima. To some extent, this game would have been rough for Harris-Tavita as he knows he's going to make way for Nikorima and 1 kick, 4 missed tackles and only 4 runs (30m) suggest that Harris-Tavita had perhaps checked out. Maybe the whole team went down that route, knowing that things would soon change.
After this game, I watched Parramatta Eels play at their new stadium and the Warriors darkness intensified. The energy coming through the telly from that stadium was tangible and I got stuck wondering if the Warriors actually want to generate that for their fans, which the players can feed off. Do the Warriors genuinely care that much?
These are the thoughts of darkness that creep into your noggin'. The dark arts of Warriors fandom, that ravage your Sunday evening as you watch your footy team look flat, again.
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Peace and love 27.