General Paul Lewis: Warriors look good and I'm not joking

warriors4life_old

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From www.nzherald.co.nz

By Paul Lewis

There will be a lot of people who do not agree with this but I fancy the Warriors for a reasonable season next year.

Top eight might be a big call. After all, knowledgeable judges like Graham Lowe and Matthew Ridge have already predicted a lack of success again because the Warriors do not have that player with the 'X-factor'; a playmaker and a gamebreaker.

But don't rule it out. The Warriors have been putting their house in order this year after that woeful salary cap business. Now, as they swell their ranks with more Australians, they are increasingly having to defend themselves from charges that they are indeed a youth and development side - buying Australian youth and developing it.

Who cares? They can import Eskimos, Kalahari bushmen and occupants of the planet Yurg for all I care, if it works.

As has been made painfully clear, the Warriors won't/can't buy a Johnathan Thurston or a Darren Lockyer and they haven't yet perfected the talent-spotting-and-keeping techniques that bring a Benji Marshall to their door instead of to the Tigers. So what's left? Boxing smarter.

They have. In their run of four victories in a row, the Warriors demonstrated not only that they were adopting a more efficient, Australian, percentage-based style but also that the local players in the team were benefiting from it.

It has been no accident that Simon Mannering has begun to impress people during this more structured approach. Same with Patrick Ah Van.

Manu Vatuvei is scoring tries and building longer periods between his handling horrors, Jerome Ropati has impressed with his steady custodianship of the No 6 jersey while the Warriors were out hunting for Michael Witt, perhaps the key player for next season.

Sione Faumuina, the prince of serial offenders in senseless offloads, has reined in his propensity for throwing the ball at passing shadows.

Anyone wondering why Steve Price has added try-scoring to his long list of attributes need look no further than this consistency and structure.

While some see it as inexplicable cutting of big names to balance the books, the Warriors have clearly been balancing their complement as well. Clinton Toopi's eccentric, erratic brilliance has been farewelled by a club that seems to be ditching star status for stellar performance.

Slowly - maybe even very slowly - the club is building a team that works together and grows together on results. They seem to be slowly constructing belief in themselves as opposed to their old Jekyll and Hyde character which saw them play 20 minutes of flashy, exciting league - but lose the match through basics like sloppy marking up on a play-the-ball or losing possession at a vital moment.

The old Warriors, however, wouldn't let a loss stop them. They'd take that 20 minutes of showy league to the nearest nightclub and strut it up for the sheilas with a few glasses of bourbon and Red Bull and some moves on the dance floor.

I'm not saying that the new Warriors never go to nightclubs. But, even if they do, it seems to me they are looking to lose the movie-star syndrome and adopt the persona of a group of professionals.

The only similarity between the words 'image' and 'improvement' is that they start with the same two letters. Improvement builds image. The reverse is not the case. The egos have landed.

Perhaps the biggest advance the Warriors have made this year is Grant Rovelli. Still learning his trade, the young Australian has come a huge distance in a short time. Sharing the kicking duties with Nathan Fien has brought a more settled platform for the Warriors, who used to struggle dismally with their kicking game.

Rovelli is seventh in the NRL for kicks in play and for try assists. Fien is 12th and 15th respectively in the same lists.

But they are going to miss Brent Webb. The Warriors are confident they have a fine player in Wade McKinnon and they may well be right. Old Warriors he might be, but Webb is a force on attack, providing nimble, unexpected penetration to balance the new structure the team is showing. He is second in the NRL top 20 line-breakers and featured highly in terms of hit-ups, try assists (11th) and try-scoring (16th) until his recent injury break.

He'll be missed. It remains to be seen whether the Warriors, 2007 version, will take their teamwork to a new level. I'd say they will.

Basics builds brilliance. The reverse is never true.
 

warriorfaithful*_old

Guest
Vey good points made there and i do think we will make finals footy in 2007.
 

sebastian_old

Guest
Paul Lewis post puts Ridges article in the bin, some of us have said they don't like Lowe, we'll i think most of the articles i read written by Mathew Ridge are rubbish. Great post!!!
 

Skinny_Ravs82

Guest
Just a few days after finding Dale Budge's stuff thsi pops up, brilliant. I like what he says for sure this guy. Smart thinking. Lets have more of these type of writiers please!!!
 

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