The Newsroom previews the teams for the 2015 NRL season. Today, the New Zealand Warriors.
The New Zealand Warriors are looking to shake off 2014’s cobwebs. Their season started strongly, however inconsistency saw them miss the finals series. The Warriors were unnerved by a change of coach in round six and a series of management dramas. This looks to be in the past now and new CEO Jim Doyle is confident that club management is moving in the right direction with several new staff appointments.
Last season – 9th
In: Ryan Hoffman (Storm), Matt Allwood (Raiders), Bodene Thompson (Wests Tigers), Jonathan Wright (Sharks), Api Pewhairangi (Wentworthville).
Out: Kevin Locke (Salford Red Devils), Carlos Tuimavave (Knights), Feleti Mateo (Sea Eagles), Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard and Dane Nielsen (Dragons), Abraham Papalii (Roosters), Jerome Ropati (retired), Jayson Bukuya (Sharks)
Strengths: The Warriors were prolific scorers in 2014. The strong back line combinations have been worked on during the off season and coach Andrew McFadden believes the addition of international representative Ryan Hoffman in the second row will aid in steering the defence.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent play was a major drawback for the Warriors in 2014. Despite their aggressive scoring style, the defence was often compromised and this will have to be strengthened if they are to finish in the top eight this year. The players will need to work on their team synergy if they are to reverse the fortunes of last season.
Key player: 2014 Golden Boot winner Shaun Johnson will take the captaincy reigns this season. The 24-year-old halfback will be pivotal if the Warriors have any chance of reaching the finals.
Coach: Andrew McFadden is continuing to put this stamp on the team after taking over the reigns mid way through 2014. He has been instrumental in improving club moral and making several new coaching appointments. McFadden believes the fate of the club this season rests firmly on the shoulders of young captain Shaun Johnson, but the playmaker is well up to the task in his opinion.
Prediction: 6th – Alice Boyd
Top photo from Naparazzi’s Flickr photostream.