Lofty expectations have exacerbated the Warriors’ agonising six-season finals drought, but that shouldn’t be a problem in 2018 if the consensus from Australian experts are any indication.
In Big League’s 2018 NRL Season Preview issue, none of the nine-strong staff had the Warriors in their top eight.
One of the Big League team had them finishing with the wooden spoon – but the Warriors’ chances this year were even more emphatically marginalised when the magazine asked a group of journalists, commentators and rugby league identities for their predictions.
Just one of the 12 pundits polled had the Warriors making the finals, while five tipped the club to collect the wooden spoon.
The Warriors have never finished last in their 23-season existence, a status they share with just Manly, Brisbane, St George Illawarra and Wests Tigers, but The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie, historian and stats guru David Middleton, FoxSports’ Lara Pitt and Emma Lawrence, and AAP’s Scott Bailey reckon the club will create unwanted history in 2018.
The one expert willing to back the Warriors to make the eight? None other Sir Peter Leitch. ‘The Mad Butcher’ tipped his beloved team to win their maiden premiership, with Newcastle picking up a fourth straight spoon.
The other teams nominated to finish at the foot of the ladder were the Titans (10), Tigers (2), Rabbitohs and Raiders (1 each). The Roosters (9), Cowboys (6) and Storm (4) were the popular picks to hoist the NRL trophy on grand final day.
Meanwhile, FoxSports asked their rugby league team to pick their premiers, dark horse, team most likely to go backwards and best buy. The Warriors didn’t rate a mention in any of the positive categories, but four of the 10 presenters surveyed – Yvonne Sampson, Gorden Tallis, Justin Hodges and Auckland Warriors original Greg Alexander – identified them as the team most likely to go backwards.
Wooden spoon predictions have also come from ESPN’s Brett Kimmorley, Triple M’s Mark Geyer, and independent sites Zero Tackle and The Roar, as well as approximately 90 percent of Twitter users.
The Aussie bookies are more circumspect, with the Warriors listed as fourth favourites to rack up the most losses in 2018, behind the Titans, Tigers and Bulldogs.
As for TWL’s 2018 prediction for the Warriors…well, we reckon ‘Butch’ is closer to the mark than the pundits from across the ditch.