The Warriors may have been placed no worse than equal-second on the NRL ladder throughout the first 11 rounds of the 2018 season, but they are still having trouble convincing Aussie pundits they are the real deal.
If you’ve been watching NRL360 (which we love, by the way) on the reg, you could be forgiven for not realising the Auckland-based club were up to anything special. There’s certainly been little mention recently of the fact they boast an 8-3 record and are just one win off the competition lead.
They got a mention on Wednesday night, though, as the NRL360 panel previewed Saturday’s top-four blockbuster between the Warriors and South Sydney.
After fawning over the 7-4 Rabbitohs’ burgeoning premiership credentials, they turned their attention to this weekend’s hosts.
“I’m not convinced on the Warriors based on the hidings they copped on the back of the Storm and the Roosters,” former Queensland and North Sydney great Billy Moore said.
“Those two losses, 82 points, they got touched up, they need to beat some big-name teams in big games.”
Were the ladder-leading Dragons – who the under-strength Warriors shut down 20-12 in Round 7, inflicting the Red V’s first loss of the year – not big-time enough for you Billy?
— This Warriors Life (@thiswarriorslyf) April 20, 2018
How about their 30-6 pummelling of the heavyweight Roosters in Round 4, also achieved without key troops? Not to mention the 32-20 defeat of the Rabbitohs in Perth to kick off their 2018 campaign.
The condemnation of the heavy losses to Melbourne and the Roosters conveniently glossed over the absence of Shaun Johnson and the early loss of Issac Luke in the former, and the sidelining of both for the latter.
“They are a club with a history of collapse,” co-host Paul Kent smirked.
“And that’s the problem for the Warriors, when it goes bad, it goes really bad.”
“Not at this time of the year,” Greg Alexander interjected.
“Not at this time of the year,” Kent continued, “but they’ve had a couple of losses that are just starting to make Warriors a little bit nervous.”
First of all, PK, don’t tell us how we’re feeling. Warriors fans aren’t nervous – they’re fizzing.
And if you’re going to harp on about past fadeouts, balance it by pointing out that the club’s record is its best after 11 games since 2002, and above 50 percent for just the fifth time in its history.
Once again it’s a case of one step back, two steps forward for the 2018 @NZWarriors, who for the third time in five rounds have responded to a dismal loss with a remarkable victory. #NRLEelsWarriors #ThisWarriorsLife #WarriorNation https://t.co/FtXRmuBHdV
— This Warriors Life (@thiswarriorslyf) May 18, 2018
Making a nice change, Alexander – who admitted he had both the Warriors and Souths in the bottom three at the start of the season – was the voice of reason around how the Warriors are travelling.
“They did bounce back from both losses with wins, importantly, and I do think there’s a little bit more substance to the Warriors this year than what we’ve seen in past years,” the former Auckland Warriors captain said.
“I think they can push aside that history.”
“You’re backing them in, are ya?” Kent asked sceptically.
“I’m backing them to remain around the mark that they are,” Alexander replied.
Asked the same question about the Rabbitohs, Moore was frothing harder than he will be on Origin night when he’s eight XXXX’s deep.
“Absolutely. After watching them beat the Dragons, (I thought) these blokes aren’t just a possible top-eight team, this is a team that can contend for the premiership.”
Never mind that Souths have lost to the Warriors, choked on a 14-point lead against Penrith, suffered a previous loss to the Saints, and were outplayed at home less than a month ago by an up-and-down Brisbane outfit.
The lopsided critiques of the high-flying clubs were another reminder that the Warriors need to do more than the average team to receive their dues from Aussie experts.
A win over the flavour-of-the-month Rabbitohs on Saturday might just be the trigger.
Look who's back to take on Souths!
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) May 22, 2018