Here’s some fun stats about the Warriors. We all know they are slow starters, over the past five years they have gone 9-16 (0.360) over the first five rounds of the season while being outscored by 113 points. In this time they haven’t ever won three of their first five games.
Incredibly the post Origin period has been even worse for the Warriors. From Round 19 through to the end of the season the Warriors have gone 9-31 (0.225). That’s horrific. In that time period they’ve been outscored by 354 points and that number might be flattering because they’ve had wins of 34, 36 and 42 among those nine wins. In 2012 they were outscored by 144 points, in 2015 it was 170 points and in 2016 it was 72 points. That sure looks like a team of quitters.
So they start slow and finish terribly but if the season started in Round 6 and finished in Round 18 they’d be a solid side. That’s something right?
Last off season the Warriors brought in Isaac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. This season it is Kieran Foran and international coaches Steve Kearney and Steve McNamara, as well as club legend Stacey Jones. There’s pretty much no excuses for not competing when the season is on the line.
The one area the Warriors did nothing about which probably should have been a higher priority than a half or new coaches was getting some go forward in the middle of the field. It is incredible to think that the Warriors can’t find a forward that can get the side on the front foot but they couldn’t find one last season.
Here’s a look at the Warriors’ starting props compared to the rest of the league:
It is a touch unfair to consider the starting players independent of their bench but regardless the Warriors don’t stack up well. Those numbers might be acceptable if it was for some gains on the defensive end but the Warriors were the third worst defensive team in the comp and their props missed 5.65% of their tackles compared to a league average for props of 5.22%.
Here’s a look at the front row options:
As you can see none of the Warriors’ players produces even NRL average tackle breaks or average metres per run. That’s a problem.
One of the Warriors’ best performances came in Round 13 against the Broncos. In this game the four front rowers used combined for six tackle breaks, 383 metres and a 10.5 metres per run. The fact that they owned the middle of the field set-up players like Lolohea and Kata to run rampant out wide. If the Warriors can’t get the same sort of performances from the front row as they did against the Broncos it isn’t going to matter who the new coach and five-eighth are.
Late into 2016 Kieran Foran was the Warriors’ only new addition (and he’s not yet registered) so it’s pretty reasonable to assume he’s the only player that factors heavily in the Warriors 2017 plans. That means the line-up should look pretty similar to what was available in 2016, including a healthy Roger Tuivasa-Sheck less an injured Ben Matulino. The key position battles will involve whether 2016 sensation David Fusitu’a ends up at centre or on the wing and whether he bounces Ayshford or Maumalo. Considering the frequency of Manu Vatuvei injuries these days who ever misses out can still expect to get a chance.
2016 Positional Minute Splits
Because of a stupid tendency to carry an outside back on the interchange (and a little because of Vatuvei injuries) the Warriors had the third least amount of minutes out of their centres, wingers and fullback. The two sides with less were the Broncos and Roosters who were both lower due to injuries during games.
The Warriors have decent depth in the halves with some exciting talent available to back-up Johnson and Foran. Two really exciting players are Junior Pauga who is only an injury or two away from playing at centre and Isaiah Papalii who is probably a little more buried in the prop depth.
Average Fantasy Points Allowed
It is a bit surprising but the Warriors have generally been a tough fantasy opponent the last three seasons.
Key Fantasy Changes
The return of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is the only change worth noting. He’s very underpriced after averaging 33 in just seven games last year. I don’t think the addition of Kieran Foran does much to Shaun Johnson’s fantasy output in either direction.