It is always good to take some time out, to clear your thoughts and take emotion out of the equation before evaluating things.
It was an indifferent season for the Warriors to say the least. Their 13th-place finish returned the club to the same end result as 2017, coach Stephen Kearney’s first season in charge. Last year’s long-awaited finals return now seems like a false dawn bookended between two failed campaigns. Only time will tell if extending Kearney’s deal by three more years in February will prove to be the right call or not.
“People talk about who you sign but sometimes it is who moves on that can reshape the future of your club” – Warriors CEO Cameron George.
After making their first finals series in seven years last season, expectation was high for 2019 – if somewhat tempered by the unceremonious parting of ways with star halfback Shaun Johnson during the off-season. Warriors management had allegedly tired of being perennial underachievers and deeming Johnson not capable of delivering long-term success.
With the Warriors opting against recruiting a blue-chip replacement, coupled with unheralded signings such as Adam Keighran, Jackson Frei, Lachlan Burr, Patrick Herbert and Taane Milne, there was an unnerving sense of a rebuild underway: see Penrith Panthers.
The retirement of the reliable, dependable and trustworthy constant that was Simon Mannering can’t be overlooked in my opinion. His ever-present calm-in-a-crisis temperament was sorely missed in this year of despair.
Frustrating, self-inflicted defeats seemed to be the story of the season, and there was little to suggest that they will be doing anything different next season. Despite having Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the side, one of the best attacking/go-forward players in the NRL, they still cannot conjure up enough with the ball week-in, week-out. He makes offence look impossibly cool, but is all-too-frequently a one-man band. An able assistant he has in Ken Maumalo; however, despite the duo’s countless carries and meterage there are very few willing to follow their lead and dig in for the cause.
Perhaps if a couple of flagrantly incorrect refereeing decisions had gone their way we would be looking at things differently now. That combined with the reversal of three narrow losses and a draw through the middle of the season and you’d start to see a far better picture. However, fantasising about what might have been falls flat when you account for the horrific month that was August as, not for the first time in their history, the club fell away at the business end of the season.
But ultimately I am not here to pass judgement. Throughout the season I have tried to offer an unbiased point of view with a difference – statistical. Sure, you can cherry-pick stats to illustrate a point, but I believe you should always go for relevant stats to portray the true picture. Up against the statistical highlights there are times that they can be perceived as a negative; for example, if you’re up against a benchmark opponent such as the Melbourne Storm. So by providing a narrative along with the figures I have tried to explain the facts as best as possible.
It doesn’t make for pretty reading going up against the Storm for most sides in the NRL to be fair. But, be that as it may, you write your own destiny with your previous performances as a whole. Unfortunately, everyone gets tainted with the same brush and the only way start trending upwards is by winning.
So, statistically speaking (without cherry-picking) here is a look back at the Warriors 2019 season.
5 – The Warriors’ five wins at home was two less than their 2018 haul. In fact, three of the last four seasons have only produced five wins at home.
6 – This was aided by the fact that they equaled a 20-year-old club record for the most consecutive defeats at Mt Smart Stadium by losing six in a row from Round 6 to Round 20. They also lost six straight games at the venue from Round 24, 1998 through to Round 9, 1999.
34 – The 34-point winning margin against the Bulldogs in Round 1 was the biggest in the club’s history in the fixture between those two sides.
2 – The 8-2 loss to the Brisbane Broncos in Round 11 was only the second occasion in club history that they have lost when conceding single figures in a game. On the other occasion they lost 4-2 to the Melbourne Storm in 2007.
4 – The Round 16 win against the Knights marked the first time that the club had won four games in a row on Australian soil since 2002.
2 – The side played in two golden point games in three weeks in Rounds 15 and 17, against the Panthers and Broncos respectively.
1 – They picked up their first draw since 2009 with an 18-all result against the Broncos in Round 17.
3 – The Warriors secured just their third win in Wellington in 11 games since 2001 with a 19-18 victory over the Cronulla Sharks. It was also just their third win against the Sharks in their last 12 games dating back to 2012 and only the club’s second win via a deadlock-breaking field goal since 2009.
5 – In spending the month of July on the road the club turned a negative into a positive by extending their unbeaten record away from Mt Smart to six matches (five wins and a draw).
30 – The Round 20 clash against the Raiders saw them concede their most points in a half in 2019 (30), the second occasion they had failed to score a point in the first half in 2019 and the third occasion they had failed to score a try in the first half in 2019.
2,252 – The unlikely 24-16 win over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Round 21 saw the club achieve their first home victory over the northern beaches outfit since 2013, or 2,252 days.
42 – The Round 23 game against the Cronulla Sharks saw August go from bad to worse with the side conceding their second-highest score against the Sharks in their history. The highest remains the 45 points conceded in 2012.
8 – August overall was a tough month, with 26 tries conceded (30% of the season’s total) and 146 points conceded (27% of the season’s total), leaking seven tries or more in three out of the four games.
20 – The Round 24 loss to the Rabbitohs was the fourth occasion in five games that they lost by 20 or more points. It was also the fifth occasion in 2019 that they failed to score a point in the second half.
7 – Seven of their losses in 2019 were by margins of 21 points or more. In contrast, during their disastrous 2017 campaign, the biggest of the club’s 17 defeats was by just 20 points.
2005 – The final-round win over the Raiders was the first time since 2005 that the Warriors had won a final round game when not advancing to the finals and their first victory when mathematically out of finals contention since 2009.
433 – The 433 points scored was the worst return in attack since 2009, where they side only scored 377. It also ranks as the seventh-lowest season total points scored in the club’s history.
574 – The 574 points conceded in 2019 placed them as the third-worst defensive side in the NRL in 2019. However, it was also their second-lowest total conceded in the last five years.
68 – Maumalo’s 68-point club high haul is the lowest leading point-scorer total since Kevin Locke’s 60 points in his 2009 rookie season.
5 – The side used the highest amount of goal kickers since 2004, with five players tasked with kicking goals. Harris-Tavita, Herbert, Keighran, Luke and Nikorima.
FIRST GRADE PLAYERS
- 708 – Scored his first try in 708 days when he crossed against the Panthers. His previous four-pointer came against the Cowboys in July 2017.
- 89 – Had his best running metres average of his career to date in 2019, running for 89 metres per game.
LEESON AH MAU
- 10 – Played his first game for the Warriors in 10 years in 2019, having last played for the club as a 19-year-old in 2009 against the Manly Sea Eagles.
- 24 – Ah Mau was the only Warrior to appear in all 24 games in 2019.
- 3 – A defensive workhorse, Ah Mau missed just three of 251 tackles in a nine-game run mid-season.
- 686 – He also had the highest tackle count season of his NRL career, making 686 tackles across his 24 games.
- 7 – After not appearing in first grade last season, 2019 garnered the third-least NRL appearances of his career since debuting in 2009.
- 0 – Ayshford failed to score an NRL try in a season for the third time in his career.
- 25 – Winning just three of the 12 games he played in this season, Beale endured the worst winning percentage of his career at just 25%.
- 72 – It was also his lowest gain in running metres since his sophomore year at the Broncos, running for just 72 metres per game in 2019 (he put up 69 metres per game in 2010).
- 20 – The 311-game veteran has appeared in 22 or more games in every season since 2008 – a remarkable achievement for a forward.
- 754 – Blair reeled off the most tackles in any season in his career in 2019, totalling 754.
- 24 – His ill-discipline let him down too often, though, evident in the fact that he was the second-most penalised player in the competition in 2019 with 24. Two behind Panthers playmaker James Maloney.
- 4 – Blair was sin-binned twice in 2019, taking his tally of referee-enforced 10-minute spells in two seasons at the Warriors to four – an unwanted club record.
- 23 – Journeyman Burr was thrown a lifeline by the Warriors and returned to play his first NRL game since 2016. It turned out to be his most successful season in his career to date with 23 appearances (his best previous tally was 20 games for the Titans in 2015).
- 802 – His 802 tackles was the second-most out of any Warrior this season, behind only Jazz Tevaga. It was a total good enough to be in the top 25 for most tackles in the NRL in 2019.
- 20 – Mid-season recruit Curran was the second-youngest player to appear for the Warriors in 2019. After making his debut aged 19 for the Roosters in April, he switched to the Warriors in June.
- 100% – Despite missing eight tackles on his Warriors debut, he did not miss one in either of his other two NRL games in 2019.
- 31% – A peculiar season for last season’s NRL top try-scorer, scoring just five tries from his 16 appearances this season – a rate of just 31%, well down on last year’s try-per-game ratio (23 tries in 23 games).
- 26 – Play just didn’t go his way this season, literally. He made just 26 tackles, and missed another 10. With stats like that it’s hard to understand why the opposition didn’t send more traffic his way.
- 1 – Green kicked his first career field goal in the Round 18 win over the Sharks. He is the only current Warrior with a field goal to his name.
- 284 – He enjoyed the most prolific kicking season in his career; his 284 metres per game was good enough to place him in the top 10 in the NRL for the season with 5,981 kick metres in total.
- 12 – Green led the club for try assists in 2019 with 12.
- 32 – One of the Warriors’ better performances before injury ruined his season. He was averaging over 30 tackles and 100 run metres per game.
- 38% – Before this season Harris had never won less than 56% of games he had played in a season. But 2019 has been the exception to the rule however, winning just five of his 13 appearances – a 38% win ratio.
- 19 – After playing 25-plus games in his first four seasons with Melbourne, Harris has been restricted to 17 games or less in the past three NRL campaigns. He has missed 19 games since joining the Warriors in 2019.
- 56 – His 56 points are the second-most in a season for a Warriors player making his debut in the NRL, behind only Kevin Locke’s 2009 tally (60).
- 20 – Harris-Tavita only just missed out on becoming a teenage NRL debutant, turning 20 two days before his first outing against the Titans.
- 18 – Rookie centre Herbert’s 18-point haul against the Panthers in Round 10 is the second-equal highest tally by an individual against the Panthers in Warriors history. It matched Michael Witt’s 2008 effort, and was two behind Witt’s outright record of 20 set in 2007.
- 10 – Hiku had the second-most try assists for the club in 2019 with 10 – equal with Latrell Mitchell for the most in the NRL by a centre this season.
- 18 – He has assisted 18 tries over the past two seasons, with David Fusitu’a scoring 23 tries outside him in 2018 and Ken Maumalo 17 in 2019.
- 2 – Kata’s two tries in Round 1 against the Bulldogs were to be his only tries of the season before a mid-term switch to the Melbourne Storm. It was his lowest return of tries in his NRL career, having passed double figures in three of his previous four seasons.
- 79 – This was also the first season in his career that he ran for less than 100 metres per game, managing only 79 on average in 2019.
- 16 – Keighran picked up 16 points against the Bulldogs, scoring a try and kicking six goals – a record for a player making their first-grade debut for the Warriors.
- 9 – Keighran kicked nine of his 10 attempts at goal in his debut season.
- 90 – Lawton defended at a very impressive 90% tackle accuracy in 2019.
- 2 – Lisone had his first season scoring more than one try in 2019. Having previously gone 63 games without scoring a try, he now has three in his 85 games for the Warriors.
- 56 – A tough season for the interchange forward, running for a career low of just 56 metres per game.
- 15 – With just 15 run-on appearances during his Warriors farewell, Luke started the least amount of games in his NRL career since 2007, when he started just three times in his debut season.
- 85 – His 85% successful kicking rate in 2019 was the highest in his career when he has kicked more than one goal.
- 5 – Scored his first double against the Knights in Round 8, and ended the season with five doubles in total – after having never previously scored more than one in an NRL match.
- 17 – Going into the 2019 season, Maumalo had scored 14 tries from 64 games in four seasons for the Warriors. A breakout season saw him score more than that in just 23 games, picking up 17 tries to finish the season in third place on the NRL’s leading try-scorer chart.
- 14 – His brace against Manly in Round 21 took him to 14 tries in the space of 14 games.
- 68 – Highlighting a lack of points in 2019, he topped the club’s pointscoring charts with a modest 68 – made up solely of tries. This was first time a non-recognised goalkicker has been the leading scorer for the club since Francis Meli scored 92 points in 2003 via his 23 tries.
- 1,490 – He topped the NRL for the most post-contact with 1,490.
- 448 – His 448 runs was second only to teammate Tuivasa-Sheck in the premiership.
- 4,537 – His 4,537 run metres (averaging 190 metres per game) were also second only to Tuivasa-Sheck during the regular season.
- 1 – One of two players to have a single outing for the Warriors in 2019; the other was Leivaha Pulu.
- 129 – He made all six of his tackles in his sole appearance and ran for 129 metres.
- 20 – His kicking game and try assists were down on previous season, but he produced 20 offloads to add a new dimension to his game.
- 85 – He also upped his running game in 2019 to a career-best 85 metres per game.
- 37 – His 37 offloads was the equal-most by a Warriors player with Tuivasa-Sheck, and good enough for 10th-equal in the NRL for 2019.
- 98 – This was the first time in four years that his running game dipped below 100 metres per game, sitting at 98 for 2019.
- 38 – Papali’i’s numbers were up across the board in 2019. Starting in 20 of his 23 games, he averaged 38 tackles per game.
- 11 – His tally included topping the 40-tackle mark on 11 occasions this season.
- 19 – Perham made his NRL debut two months before turning 20 years old – the youngest player to appear for the Warriors in 2019.
- 0 – Rookie Perham has yet to taste victory in his brief NRL career, losing both of the games that he appeared in.
- 100 – Despite playing 80 minutes in each of his five games, the rookie winger has yet to cross the 100-metre mark yet with 86 running metres being his best effort to date, against the Rabbitohs in Round 24.
- 2 – Pompey picked up tries in consecutive games in his fourth and fifth outings in 2019.
- 23 – Pulu has the dubious honour of playing the least minutes of first grade in 2019 out of every Warriors player to feature in the NRL.
- 0 – Bizarrely, despite making 17 tackles in his 23-minute stint, he did not get a run with the ball at all. Zero runs, zero metres.
- 580 – Returning from a year out with injury, Roache played his first NRL game in 580 days in Round 1 against the Bulldogs.
- 26 – A shocking injury run has meant that Roache has played in just 26 NRL games out of a possible 97 since his NRL debut in 2016.
- 1,512 – Sao scored his first Warriors try and first NRL try since June 2015 – more than 1,500 days between ‘meat pies’.
- 2 – Satae was the second player to leave the Warriors mid-season after Solomone Kata. He took up a contract with Hull FC in August.
- 1 – Once linking up with Hull FC, he started in the first game of his career. In total he played four games for the Super League side in the back end of the season.
- 39 – Tevaga averaged a shade under 40 tackles per game in 2019, at a fantastic 92% success rate.
- 72 – In Round 17 he broke the NRL record for the most combined runs and tackles in a game, with 22 runs (184 metres) and a phenomenal 72 tackles.
- 368 – Tuivasa-Sheck set a new NRL record for the most metres run in an NRL game since the metric was first recorded. Running for an incredible 368 metres against the Broncos in Round 17.
- 200 – He ran for over 200 metres on 12 occasions in 2019.
- 1,272 – His 1,272 post-contact metres was the sixth-most in the NRL in 2019.
- 136 – He made the second-most tackle breaks in 2019 with 136, behind the Roosters James Tedesco (148).
- 10 – He produced the Warriors’ second-highest tally of try assists with 10.
- 37 – RTS was tied for first at the club and equal-10th in the NRL most offloads with 37.
- 488 – He was unchallenged in the NRL with his running game, totally 488 hit ups – 40 clear of teammate Ken Maumalo.
- 4,742 – Running for 206 per game, he topped the NRL for the most metres run with 4,742.
- 1 – It was his best season across all statistical facets for the Warriors. Even better than last year when he picked up the Dally M Player of the Year Award.
- 100 – Kearney celebrated his 100th NRL game as a coach in the 26-18 comeback win over the Dragons in Round 9 – just the second New Zealander (after Bill Kelly) to achieve that milestone in the premiership.
- 3 – He is now in third place for the most games in charge of the Warriors with 73.
- 40 – The Round 23 loss to the Sharks took Kearney to 40 career losses as a Warriors coach, the second-most in the club’s history. Of 11 coaches in Warriors history, he currently sits sixth in terms of winning percentage at 42%.
- 8 – He has the 8th-best winning percentage at home out of 11 coaches, winning 48% of games in charge.
- 3 – Away from home, he has the third-best winning record with a 39% win rate.
0 – The Warriors are the only side in the NRL without a current 100 game club player. After Solomone Kata’s departure, David Fusitu’a is currently the most capped current Warrior with 96 appearances.
3 – Three former Warriors (Greg Alexander, Stacey Jones and Ruben Wiki) were nominated for induction to the 2019 NRL Hall of Fame. Ultimately Jones and Wiki were inducted.
52 – Sadly, we lost one of the greats this season with the passing of Quentin Pongia. Warrior #52 Pongia played 18 games for the club in the 1998 season. He also played 74 games for the Canberra Raiders, 43 for the Sydney Roosters, 2 for the St George-Illawarra Dragons and 30 for the Wigan Warriors. As well as 35 tests for the Kiwis.
2019 Warriors Milestones:
50 – Three players passed 50 NRL games for the Warriors in 2019; Bunty Afoa (now 64 games), Jazz Tevaga (57) and Blake Ayshford (50).
74 – Sam Lisone moved into fourth place for the most appearances from the bench for the Warriors in the Round 16 clash against the Knights. Lisone has now come off the pine on 74 occasions, still some way behind the outright leader Ben Matulino who was an interchange player on 104 occasions (as well as making 108 starting appearances).
17 – Ken Maumalo’s 17 tries this season, is the sixth equal best in a season for the club. He sits alongside Clinton Toopi (2003) and Manu Vatuvei (2014) who both scored 17 in a season. The season record of 23 still jointly held by Francis Meli (2003) and David Fustitu’a (2018).
60 – David Fustitu’a moved to 60 career tries for the Warriors, now in equal fifth place with Francis Meli who scored 60 tries from 110 games for the club.
69 – Issac Luke brought up his 50th club goal in the Round 16 win over the Knights. Eventually finishing the season, and his Warriors career with 69 goals. He sits in ninth place overall.
194 – Issac Luke also passed the 150 points mark in his Warriors career. His 62 points this year taking his total to 194 career points for the Warriors.
124 – Ken Maumalo’s bumper try scoring season saw him move past the 100 point barrier for the club. After starting the season with 56 points his 17 tries left him with 124 points by season’s end.
2019 NRL Milestones:
300 – Veteran forward Adam Blair (311) became just the third New Zealander to play 300 NRL games, bringing up the milestone in the Round 14 clash against the Gold Coast Titans. He joins fellow Kiwis Ruben Wiki (311) and Simon Mannering (301).
200 – Leeson Ah Mau (203) passed 200 NRL games in the Round 22 clash against the Sydney Roosters.
150 – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (160) played his 150th NRL game in the Round 15 clash against the Panthers.
150 – Blake Green (160) also passed 150 NRL games in the Round 15 clash against the Panthers. Green has also played 88 games in the UK SuperLeague.
100 – Agnatius Paasi (101) made his 100th NRL appaearance in the Round 24 clash against the Rabbitohs.
100 – Kodi Nikorima (100) made his 100th NRL appearance in the Round 25 clash against the Raiders.
50 – Issac Luke (50) scored his 50th NRL try in the Round 19 clash against the Eels.
200 – Luke (203) also kicked the 200th goal of his NRL career in the Round 25 clash against the Raiders.
24 – Leeson Ah Mau was the only player to appear in every game for the Warriors in 2019, starting in 21 games and coming off the bench in three others. Lachlan Burr, Peta Hiku, Ken Maumalo, Agnatius Paasi, Isaiah Papali’i and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck all missed just one game.
9 – Nine players made their debut for the Warriors this season – six New Zealand-born players and three Australian-born.
5 – For five of them it also doubled as their NRL debut.
3 – We had our second and third Adams – Keighran and Pompey joining teammate Adam Blair as the only Adams to play for the Warriors.
2 – We had our second Patrick, Herbert joining Ah Van.
1 – There was also club firsts for the names Chanel, Hayze, Joshua, Kodi, Lachlan and Taane.
All the best for the off-season Warriors fans. A few months of daydreaming about a new season of hope and glory come this time next year. We are Warriors.