The Warriors will need confidence in their coach if they are to beat the Sharks on Sunday.
We can all look at the last two weekend’s capitulations from the Warriors and easily get angry at them for blowing 18-0 leads, but I can tell you the players don’t purposely try to blow it. I can see that they simply don’t believe in themselves - and maybe what their coach is telling them.
Brian Mclennan came out after their two point loss to the Broncos three weeks ago and said that they need to concentrate on scoring more points, and that if they do that, they will win more games.
With all due respect to Bluey, I can tell you for a fact that nine of the last ten teams to win the competition have been either the best or second best defensive sides during the regular season.
This leaves me – and I have to assume some of the players – puzzled at attack being their priority when they have conceded 24 points in their last two games.
I often talk about defense being the key, but it’s not just from a personal bias – it’s based on the stats. I’ll say it again; nine of the last ten teams to win the comp were the best defensive sides. That doesn’t seem like a coincidence.
I wonder if the emphasis on attack is something that worked for Bluey in the northern hemisphere. I’ll concede that scoring plenty of points with a star studded line up is possible in the English Super League but there is a marked difference between the quality of teams across the table there.
The NRL is a tougher and tighter competition and there is only a very slight difference between a side that is winning and one that isn’t. For me this is true for the Warriors. They have shown they have the tools to get the job done I just wonder if the instruction manual they use has been tailored to them and the NRL.
A lot of people have asked me about Bluey as a coach and if he should be there next season.
I think the club has a responsibility to give him another year in the role but should be looking for a long-term coach that will be at the club for 5-10 years following that. If the owners are serious about building the most successful sporting franchise in the southern hemisphere then they need to get the right man at the top.
For me that would be the Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
He’s molded the Storm into the benchmark team in the comp over the last few years and turned average players into some of the games elite. Just imagine what someone like him could do with all the talent the Warriors have at their disposal.
Speaking of talent at the club it was great to see Sebastian Ikihihifo make his debut last weekend - and to now see Carlos Tuimavave named to play against the Sharks.
I’m sure they will both deliver on the field but it will be the experienced players that will need to step up and be counted on Sunday.
The Sharks will have Paul Gallen, Jeremy Smith and Todd Carney steering their ship and the Warriors will need James Maloney, Manu Vatuvei, Feleti Mataeo and Nathan Friend to match them.
At the end of the day though, this game will come down to which side believes in their process the most and which team defends the best, not scores the most.
I am hoping Mclennan can inspire his troops for the full eighty and have them trust that if they deliver what he asks they will win. If he can’t and the home side switch off for a few minutes the Sharks will be primed to end the Warriors finals hopes and push themselves back into the top four.
I think the Warriors will muster up enough character to get the job done.
Here are my picks for the rest of the weekend’s footy.
Roosters v Dragons
The Dragons sit just one win off eighth spot so this is a must win game for them, especially when you consider the Sydney Roosters are winless from their last five starts. The Roosters won’t play in the finals and won’t win this game. Dragons for me.
Storm v Panthers
The wheels have really fallen off the Storm over the last month. They have lost five matches in a row for the first time under coach Craig Bellamy. They will fancy getting their finals momentum going with a win over the lowly placed Penrith side. The Panthers will be looking to spoil the party as they did last weekend in beating the Sharks but I can’t see them winning this one. I’m going with the Storm.
Knights v Bulldogs
If you want to see where your finals credentials sit, playing the top team is the answer. The Newcastle boys have been in form over the last few weeks and are within striking range of being in the top eight. The Dogs though are at another level and although this will be a close one I can’t see the Knights footing it for the full eighty minutes with the Canterbury boys. Dogs to win.
Cowboys v Sea Eagles
The winner of this game could seal a top four finish to the season so there’s plenty at stake here. I just wonder if playing in Perth last weekend then traveling all the way to Townsville will hurt the Manly side’s chances? I have to lean towards the North Queensland side at home.
Raiders v Broncos
If the Raiders lose this match their season is over. If the Brisbane boys drop the game it would seem a very tough ask for them to finish in the top four so this game will have plenty of passion and desperation from the Raiders. I think this could be an upset and the Raiders will take it.
Titans v Rabbitohs
This should be a very entertaining and physical game. The South Sydney boys have been in devastating form over the last two months and the Titans have found form of late winning their last three matches. This will go down to the wire but I just can’t back against the Bunnies given the form they’re in. Souths.
Tigers v Eels
The Eels have put on two very good performances over the last fortnight and will fancy tipping over the Tigers. I think the Wests boys will step up a few levels and try to send a statement to the competition that they are still a genuine threat to the title. I think they will deliver so it’s the Tigers for me.