1st Grade Fringe
- Jun 8, 2015
Play The Ball submitted a new Article:
Warriors all-time team
Warriors all-time team
Read more about this article here...This year represents the 20-year anniversary of the Warriors and the 21st season of them playing in the Australian rugby league competition.
I’ve had the fortune to cover the club since arguably its finest season – 2002 – in which the Daniel Anderson-inspired side claimed a maiden wooden spoon and would go on to play the Sydney Roosters in the NRL Grand Final. I moved into the best seat in the house as a side-line commentator for Radio Sport in 2004 and held that role until the end of the 2010 season. While there will be more astute judges out there and people that have had a closer association to the club than I, naming my all-time Warriors side seems appropriate now that I’ve begun this blog.
So here goes…
My all-time Warriors side: 1. Ivan Cleary, 2. Francis Meli, 3. Brent Tate, 4. Clinton Toopi, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Shaun Johnson, 7. Stacey Jones, 8. Ruben Wiki, 9. PJ Marsh, 10. Steve Price, 11. Ali Lauitiiti, 12 Simon Mannering (capt), 13. Michael Luck. Bench: Ben Matulino, Stephen Kearney, Kevin Campion, Lance Hohaia. Coach: Daniel Anderson.
At fullback I’ve opted to go with the ever-reliable Ivan Cleary. He was the calming influence on a young side that could produce magic plays but also had the ability to blow up the basic stuff. His steady nature and ability to communicate made those around him more consistent. He was safe as houses under the high ball, an under-rated ball player and a premium goal kicker. Wade McKinnon enjoyed a couple of terrific seasons before a knee injury set him back and Brent Webb was a very good player for the club. Matthew Ridge was one of the finest fullbacks of his era but didn’t spend enough time on the field to beat out Cleary in my view.
On the wings it is impossible to ignore the contribution Manu Vatuvei has had. The Beast is one of the game’s greatest try-scorers and is such a threat in the opposition red zone – be it in the air or one-on-one with ball in hand. He helps get the Warriors off to a good start in their set so often with his rampaging charges. Sure, his game has been riddled with errors throughout his career but even in accepting those mistakes he’s miles ahead of anyone else. I’ve gone with Francis Meli on the other wing – both he and Vatuvei played predominantly on the left but I’ve gone with Meli due to his ability in the air and strong running as well. He was a bone-rattling defender as former Warrior Brent Tate could attest to. Meli was more consistent over a longer period of time...