General Star turn but not main game.


Graham Lowe: Star turn but not in main game

Friday July 21, 2006

It's been an interesting week for the Warriors with their top-eight prospects as good as shot, their once-was-a-star centre Clinton Toopi off to England, stalwart second-rower Awen Guttenbeil following and another struggling Aussie hopeful joining the club's ranks.

In amongst all this, the Warriors got their first look at one of the best prospects they've had in years last Saturday night and probably didn't even realise it.

Mind you, it's my bet they would have been focusing on a young up-and-comer who looked like he could deliver some of the star quality the club so desperately needs. If that's the case, this bloke wouldn't have come within cooee of their radar.

Not surprising, because he's a 21-stone over-the-hill club player with the workrate of a donkey.

But his performance at Mt Smart on the weekend was, in my view, the biggest contribution the Warriors have had this season.

The man in question is Noel Wyatt, 43, who started his footy life with Ellerslie as a 4-year-old. He was never a premier player, just a real good club man.

He was the bloke who conceived, organised and played in the ex-Kiwis All Stars match against an Invitational XIII before the Warriors' critical contest against the Eels.

In his footy gear last Saturday he looked like a cross between Steve Austin and Frankenstein as he eagerly rumbled forward into the teeth of the ex-Kiwis defence.

I reckon his efforts alone added 7000 people to the crowd.

I have no doubt the innovative promotion added thousands of people to the gate, and impressed a live television audience with the standard and skills of the players involved.

As a result, and at the very least, I was expecting someone involved in the Warriors to offer a dressing-room visit of thanks to Noel and the 40 players. None came, and that is sad.

In fact, I think the club badly misjudged just how popular these former great players are. There can be no other explanation for the fact that at 5.10pm the stadium gates were still shut with hundreds of people queuing to get in.

Normally, with a Bartercard Cup curtainraiser you'd be lucky to hit a single soul with a double-barrel shotgun outside the gates at the same time.

The ex-Kiwis also gave the Warriors a few pointers on the field, especially when it comes to star power.

Coach Ivan Cleary has done a great job this year, but I don't know how much more he can wring from his side -

the players are trying hard but lack the stars or game-breakers they need to lift to another level.

To make matters worse, they are showing the door to players who promise this ability, but for some reason aren't consistently producing.

It's unfair to point the finger at Cleary for this. He has done an outstanding job with the players he has and has managed to get his team to produce consistently good football.

But what Cleary now desperately needs is the player with that all-too-hard-to-find magic quality. The game-breaker.

Of even more importance is an assurance from owner Eric Watson that he will have the money ready when Cleary makes his move in trying to sign such a player.

If I was Ivan I'd find Wednesday's Sydney Morning Herald headline "Cash-strapped Warriors seek help" a bloody big worry.

I get a feeling the Warriors owner is losing his appetite for the cost of running this club. And unless he is willing to be in boots and all, his coach is on a hiding to nothing.

When I first approached Watson to see if he had an interest in buying out Tainui's share of the club in 1999 he said to me, 'Let me know when the club is on its knees.'

According to the Sydney Morning Herald it seems Watson has been the one on his knees - to the NRL.

It remains to be seen whether the Warriors will find the class they need through the signing of halfback Michael Witt from Manly. And it will be interesting to see what position he plays and how he fits in.

He is a good player but let's face it, he's Orford's understudy at Manly. And there's a big question mark over whether he will add the value that the club obviously believes Lance Hohaia can't provide.

Hohaia's career is in tatters and he should be moving on while he is still young and good enough to get a start at another club.

I'D like to publicly wish Awen Guttenbeil all the best next season at Castleford.

Through all that has happened over the years at the Warriors, Awen has remained a true professional.

In this column earlier in the season I suggested Awen consider retiring because he looked like a player who'd passed his use-by date.

But his form in the latter part of this year has been outstanding.

Loyalty is a word many current day players can't even spell, let alone understand. Awen always did.

LAST week's Fox Memorial produced a couple of upsets, which included Mt Albert's first loss of the season at the hands of a determined Papakura.

This week Mt Albert, who remains at the top of the table, meet the improving Mangere East. It's a home game for Mt Albert and because of this they must put the Roope Rooster up for grabs and that is certain to add some spice to what already looks to be a good contest.

In what promises to be another terrific game, Northcote should beat Te Atatu at Birkenhead Domain. Elsewhere, Marist will struggle to handle the power of Papakura at Halberg Park and Otahuhu should be too strong for East Coast Bays at Freyberg Park.


i cant really argue with anything he says there.

true what he says about ivan cleary, he is doin a good job as coach. no blame should be placed on him for our position.

yeh and we dont have any game-breakers in the team. toopi our one-time gamebreaker has been shipped off to england and sione is not at his best. according to the contract price of players wiki and pricey should be our game-breakers.

and lance hohaia... sad to say it but its true. it might be best for him to leave the warriors and start his career over.


Yeah, if Hohaia isn't going to get game time here then rather than spend another year in B/C before his contract expires at the end of next season he should move on to a club that will play him.


Yep, i think he was pretty much spot on as well, even though some of the article was depressing(though true).


Probably just me but Lowey takes an age to get to his main points. I don't read much of his stuff these days even when he writes good stuff coz its rather long winded. My writing teacher says you can say alot mroe in less words. That article while some bits are true it's a lot to take in and read while trying to find main points.

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