Wednesday, March 2, 2016

season kicking off

The season starts tonight with Parramatta playing the Broncos. The Warriors play the Tigers on Saturday night.

Looking at the various season previews, there seems to be a consensus that most teams are - at least theoretically - are better thna they were last year. Still there is room for just eight teams in the top eight and only one team will win the comp. Sometimes you might think from these previewers that that wasn't the case.

Usually people tip the Warriors to have a good season. This year the additions of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Isaac Luke should improve the team considerably. But people seem to feel they have been a bit burned in the past and are sceptical at least for now. Paul Kent on NRL 360 last night said the buys hadn't improved the defence, and as I write this Paul Gallen on The Rush Hour is playing down their chances against the Tigers this week.

If the Warriors can't beat the Tigers, without doubt one of the two or three weakest teams in the comp, then Warriors fans are in for a long season.

A Johnson-Luke-RTS combo is mouth watering, and Luke is a also a tough guy in defence. One hopes they can gell quickly.

One thing - at one point in the middle of last season  the Warriors were fourth placed. They then lost Johnson to injury and didn't win again. Johnson is the key and I think if he stays iujury-free and at or near his best form, there is every reason to be confident.

I feel the same about the Cowboys. They can win the comp again - but they do need to have JT at his best. If he gets injured, they're toast.

Mannering to Hoffman

It was interesting to see Simon Mannering stand down as captain and be replaced by RĂ½an Hoffman. Hoffman is an experienced old head. I guess I would have expected the captaincy to go to Isaac Luke or possibly Shaun Johnson as they are clearly more on-field leaders in key positions, and both are New Zealanders.

Mannering suggested if the captaincy was just about leading the team on-field, he would have stayed on. He said it was the olff-field commitmentes, in particular the regular travel to Sydney that he found tiring. I did find this all a bit odd as he is hardly a regular performer in the media, either here or in Australia. I guess there are more captain dicussions in Sydney than we think.

I heard on Radio Sport their league commentator Dale Budge asserted that Mannering was the best captain the Warriors have had, better than his predecessor Steve Price, who he said was too tough on the players, demanding better performance. Mannering got on with the players better.

Budge will certainly know the views of the players better. I wish though the host had suggested to him that the performance of the warriors in recent years suggested they might need a captain who was a bit tougher. Hoffman seems a nice guy too, but if he is more demanding of better performances, he will receive no criticism from me.