Aotearoa Warriors been losing and all the wrong noises have been coming out of Mt Smart as the 2019 season winds up. Take out the win over Manly Sea Eagles a few weeks ago and the Warriors have been defeated by Canberra Raiders, Sydney Roosters and Cronulla Sharks with the opposition putting 40+ points on the Warriors in each game. Prior to that there were a string of close encounters, but against bottom-eight or fringe Finals teams and against the best, the Warriors have been thoroughly dismantled.
Unfortunately, those who speak on behalf of the Warriors aren't helping matters and don't seem to know what messaging they are putting out for fans and who ever else. Coach Stephen Kearney doesn't appear to have much self awareness and can't align his words with actions. Kearney is the bloke who can't get his team excited to play footy, Kearney is the head coach of a team that has no attacking impetus and obviously can't defend very well either.
This should be an incredible time of self-reflection for Kearney, instead he continue to throw up odd selections and interchange usage, while also doubling down on questioning players and their efforts. For almost two seasons, Kearney has failed to extract any substance out of his players and when those are the facts, the coach must look within and figure out how they operate.
Alongside Kearney, but in disjointed fashion, another fellow continues to speak publicly when his track record is just as crappy as Kearney's. It seems as though the Warriors CEO enjoys being in the spotlight and is constantly offering his views on a few matters; my hunch is that fans and public just want results, not hearing the CEO blabble on about this or that.
Forget about the players, Warriors coaches and administration need to suss out what they are doing. They are failing to get the best out of the NRL team and all that should be done right now is finding a better way, a new way. I'm not a dramatic lad and the only constant that I have experienced with the Warriors is change, very little consistency. That means that in no way do I want people to be fired or step down from their jobs, nah nah, I want something that is far more difficult. Sit in this pile of poo and figure out how to get better.
As I have steadily stated in recent months, I do not believe the Warriors should be chasing multiple signings or chasing a saviour. This is where I get frustrated because the Warriors are now always linked to any player who may or may not be on the market, or even worse, players who kiwi journalists fantasise about signing. Coach and CEO play a role in this as well, publicly discussing players or signalling intentions.
My idea would be to take time to establish strong pathways and develop talent from within. More importantly, offer clarity in that plan and be transparent in what the Warriors are trying to build. I've consistently written about changes to the development system at the Warriors and how impressive it is now looking, however the message from the Warriors is that it's all about winning now. The Warriors are telling us that they want to sign players and that fans should expect results right now, while they would be better off outlining how the junior systems are producing talent that will contribute to the NRL team.
The Warriors are trying to do two things at once and the results speak for themselves. The club itself has talked up expectations and signed players to stay in 'win now mode' which feels superficial. Quite clearly, the Warriors are failing at that. My preference is for the Warriors to lean into celebrating their development pathways, offering clarity in their plan to build the club and help the public understand what the Warriors are actually doing. Right now, everyone's confused as fuck.
The Warriors aren't telling you that they are a development club, I'm telling you that they are a development club. I can see that the development system looks good and is breeding exciting prospects who will contribute at an NRL level soon, so I express my views. The Warriors on the other hand only tell you about their mediocre NRL team.
This is where I fall back though. I don't really care for anyone's thoughts on what the Warriors should do and anyone who has advice or help for the Warriors, obviously hasn't paid any attention to the Warriors. Throughout the Warriors history, everyone has offered their views on what the Warriors should do and whatever the Warriors changes the Warriors had made, haven't worked.
If all the advice and talk of what the Warriors should do, hasn't actually worked, then why even bother. That means that when you see kiwi media talking about the Warriors should do this or sign this player or change this and that, stop. That person doesn't have any answers, nor do they have the secret sauce to make this dish yummy. That person is just another person living in la-la land, thinking that their advice is different to the hundreds/thousands of people who have done the same over the past 20-odd years.
I don't know what the Warriors should do.
I've learned my lessons and nothing I've previously suggested, has worked. The club has to sort itself out and other than offering a slither of advice to shut up, I want to see what kind of reflection is done at Mt Smart. There is NRLW coming up and I'll continue to discuss the lower ranks at the Warriors, but the best thing right now is to let the Warriors NRL team fade into the background.
The Warriors NRL team don't deserve your attention. The CEO definitely doesn't deserve your attention. Never think that Aotearoa's only contribution to the NRL is Aotearoa Warriors, there are an abundance of Maori, Pakeha, Samoan, Tongan and Cook Islanders doing amazing things in the NRL at a high level. There is a great international schedule locked in and regardless of what the Warriors are up to, rugby league in Aotearoa is still on the rise.