With every new season comes newfound hope and optimism. Fans gently (or not so gently) reminding their mates, ‘this is our year’.
The dream that your side spent the summer training the house down and managed to find that magical missing spark that they were lacking last season.
And now with just three days until kick off, anticipation is at fever pitch. Anticipation for that first kick-off, that first hit-up of 2020.
Or is it?
It was an indifferent season for the Warriors in 2019 to say the least. Their 13th-place finish returned the club to the same end result as 2017, coach Stephen Kearney’s first campaign in charge.With 2018 now seeming like a false dawn bookended between two failed campaigns, only time will tell if extending Kearney’s deal by three more years 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.
The pre-season trials were underwhelming and with just two off-season signings coming in there is concern around the depth of the squad. Particularly with Sam Lisone leaving to join the Gold Coast Ttans and fellow front-rowers Bunty Afoa and Jackson Frei being virtually ruled out for the season before it has even begun.But as fans we will always back our team no matter what – and coach Kearney has surprisingly gone with public opinion to a certain degree with his opening line-up for 2020.
As always, we will continue to provide you with an unbiased statistical view of each Warriors game. Starting the season with a blank canvas, here are some key numbers as we look forward to game one:
3 – The Warriors have won their last three opening-round games in the NRL, with wins over the Bulldogs (2019), Rabbitohs (2018) and Knights (2017). Preceding this was seven straight seasons of Round 1 losses, dating back to 2010.
9 – In total the Warriors have won nine of their 25 opening games of an NRL season. Note, in 1996 and 2002 the side did not kick off their season until Round 2 – both of which resulted in first-up victories.
2 – The Warriors have won just two of their 10 opening-round games when playing away from home, against the Roosters (1999) and the Rabbitohs (2018). Comparatively, their opening-round record at home is seven wins from 15 games.
4 – The Knights have won each of their last four Round 1 games when playing at home.
1 – The Warriors have won just one of their last five away games.
HEAD TO HEAD
21 – The Warriors’ 21 victories over the Newcastle Knights from 41 games is their second-most against another NRL club. Only their 22 victories over the Roosters (also from 41 games) is ahead of this in terms of wins.
953 – The Warriors have scored 953 points against the Knights in their history, second only to the 1,007 they have scored against the Panthers.
8 – The Warriors have won just eight of their 18 away games against the Knights.
18 – Recent history shows that the tide has turned, as the Warriors have won 18 of their last 25 games against the Knights overall.
11 – David Fusitu’a has scored 11 tries in seven career games against the Knights, including four in one game in Newcastle in 2016 and a Round 1 hat-trick at Mt Smart the following season.
2 – Ken Maumalo scored two tries in each of the Warriors’ two games against the Knights in 2019.
3 – Coach Stephen Kearney has never lost an opening-round clash in his time as head coach of the Warriors.
4 – Indeed, Kearney has only ever lost once in the opening round of a season as a head coach, going down to the Broncos in 2012 when he was in charge of the Eels.
3 – Kearney has won just three of his eight encounters against the Knights as a head coach.
— Sky Sport News NZ (@skysportnewsnz) March 10, 2020
7 – In total there are just seven players named from last season’s opening-round run on side: Tuivasa-Sheck, Fusitu’a, Hiku, Maumalo, Green, Blair and Harris.
2 – In the backline there are two changes from last season’s Round 1 starting line-up, with Patrick Herbert and Chanel Harris-Tavita playing instead of the departed Solomone Kata and NSW Cup five-eighth Adam Keighran.
2 – Meanwhile, in the forwards only two players remain from the corresponding 2019 match, Adam Blair and Tohu Harris. Leeson Ah Mau was on the interchange bench this time last year, and keeps his place in the starting lineup that he held for most of last season.
3 – Three players – Wade Egan, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Eliesa Katoa – are in line to make their club debuts, while it would also double as a full NRL debut for the latter two.
Leeson Ah Mau
- 3 – A defensive workhorse, Ah Mau missed just three of 251 tackles in a nine-game run mid season in 2019.
- 686 – He also had the highest tackle count season of his NRL career last year, making 686 tackles across his 24 games.
- 754 – Blair reeled off the most tackles of any season in his career in 2019, totaling 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.
- 802 – His 802 tackles was the second-most out of any Warrior last season, behind only Jazz Tevaga and good enough to be in the top 25 for most tackles in the NRL in 2019.
- 31% – A peculiar season last year for 2018’s NRL top try-scorer. Scoring just five tries from his 16 appearances, a strike-rate of just 31 percent – well down on 2018’s one try per game ratio.
- 284 – He enjoyed the best kicking season in his career in 2019 production-wise, his 284 metres per game good enough to place him in the top 10 in the NRL for the season with 5,981 kick metres in total.
- 12 – Green also led the club for try assists in 2019 with 12.
- 32 – One of the Warriors’ better performers before injury ruined his season in 2019. He was averaging over 30 tackles and 100 run metres per game.
- 38% – Before last season Harris had never won less than 56 percent of games he had played in a season. Last year was the exception to the rule, however, winning just five of his 13 appearances – a 38 percent win ratio.
- 56 – His 56 points was the most in a season for a player making his first-grade debut for the Warriors; this record does not include players who had previously played for another NRL club.
- 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 last season.
- 18 – He also 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.
- 5 – Maumalo scored the first double of his career – which began in 2015 – against the Knights in Round 8 last year and ended the season with five doubles in total.
- 17 – Going into the 2019 season, Maumalo had scored just 14 tries from 64 games in four seasons for the Warriors. A breakout year 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 try charts.
- 10 – His try against the Roosters in Round 22 took him to 10 tries in his previous 11 NRL games.
- 68 – Highlighting a lack of points in 2019, he topped the club’s pointscoring charts with 68 – the first time a non-recognised goal kicker has been the leading scorer for the club since Francis Meli scored 92 points in 2003 via his 23 tries.
- 1,490 – Maumalo topped the NRL for the most post-contact metres in 2019 with 1,490.
- 448 – His 448 runs was second only to teammate Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
- 4,537 – Big Ken’s 4,537 run metres (averaging 190 metres per game) left him in third place behind Tuivasa-Sheck and Roosters fullback James Tedesco.
- 37 – His 37 offloads were the equal most by a Warriors player with Tuivasa-Sheck, and good enough for 10th-equal in the NRL for 2019.
- 98 – Last year 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 – The above included topping the 40-tackle mark on 11 occasions last season.
- 39 – Tevaga averaged a shade under 40 tackles per game in 2019, at a fantastic 92 percent efficiency 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.
- 367 – Tuivasa-Sheck set a new NRL record for the most metres run in an NRL game in 2019, since the metric was first recorded. He ran for an incredible 368 metres against the Broncos in Round 17.
- 200 – The skipper carried the ball 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 (155).
- 10 – RTS racked up 10 try assists in 2019, second-equal for the Warriors.
- 37 – As well as jointly topping the Warriors’ count, he was 10th-equal overall in the NRL for most offloads with 37.
- 488 – He was unchallenged in the NRL with his running game, totaling 488 hit-ups – 40 clear of teammate Ken Maumalo.
- 4,742 – Carting it up for 206 metres per game, he topped the NRL for the most metres run with 4,742.
- 1 – The 2019 season was his best across all statistical facets for the Warriors – even better than 2018 when he picked up the Dally M Medal.
— Sky Sport News NZ (@skysportnewsnz) March 9, 2020
312 – Adam Blair will break the record for most first-grade games by a Kiwi in premiership history when he takes the field this weekend, overtaking Raiders and Warriors legend Ruben Wiki. Blair’s tally consists of 121 games for the Storm, 71 for the Tigers, 74 for the Broncos and 46 to date for the Warriors.
96 – David Fusitu’a requires just four more games to become the 24th player to notch a century of first-grade appearances for the Warriors. With 60 tries in his career, he also only needs four more to overtake Shaun Johnson and Simon Mannering and climb into third place in Warriors history.
87 – An injury-free season will see Ken Maumalo join the Warriors’ 100-gamer club in 2020.
147 – Tohu Harris is just three outings short of his 150-game milestone in the NRL.
49 – Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck needs just one more try to reach 50 in his NRL career. He dotted down 28 times for the Roosters and has scored 21 times for the Warriors.
187 – Though he may struggle to get an extended run in the Warriors’ line-up, Gerard Beale will join the NRL’s 200-game club if he can chalk up 13 appearances.