WARRIOR-ROO BLOG NO.7: THE CURIOUS CASE OF ‘BRANDY’

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Robert Anderson is a Brisbane-based Warriors fan and long-time member of the club. Throughout 2020, he will share his memories and thoughts on his beloved team for This Warriors Life. Here’s the seventh edition of Robert’s ‘Warrior-Roo’ blog (find previous entries HERE):

He was the Auckland Warriors’ prized signing ahead of the 1995 season. A premiership-winning captain and former Origin rep and Australian international. Greg ‘Brandy’ Alexander was seen as a vital cog to guide the fledgling club around the park. His tenure lasted just two seasons, however, before being granted an release a year early to return to his beloved Penrith club.

So what brought him to the club? His younger brother Ben had tragically died in a car accident in 1992 – just nine months after the Panthers’ euphoric maiden grand final triumph – rocking not only Greg, but the Penrith district as a whole. It derailed the Panthers’ campaign that season and took them years to get back on track. Us Warriors fans can certainly relate as the death of Sonny Fai preceded one of our poorest seasons in 2009.

Alexander needed to get out of the Sydney fishbowl and opted for a complete change of scenery across the ditch.

He personally had two productive seasons at the club – including 1996 as skipper – despite just missing the finals both seasons. However, the emergence a teenager by the name of Stacey Jones meant that he was shifted between halfback, five eighth, and fullback. Alexander was contracted to the Warriors for 1997 but was granted a release after the Panthers approached the club legend about a return. With Jones and Gene Ngamu in their playmaking ranks and champion fullback Matthew Ridge arriving, the Warriors were willing to oblige.

Whenever directly asked about his time at the club he was always very diplomatic and gives the club and the city of Auckland a big wrap. Listening to him reminisce about the inaugural match in the 25 years doco is enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

But words and actions are two different things. So why the attitude Brandy?! There is no more savage critic of the Warriors franchise than the man himself in his capacity as a FoxSports commentator. Not even one single hint of a soft spot for his former club.

In an NRL360 interview in 2015 promoting the 20th anniversary game against Brisbane he insisted that his time with the club had been “enjoyable”. However when asked what’s gone wrong with club in the ensuing years he revealed he hadn’t been back to New Zealand until the 2014 Nines, and basically wouldn’t have a bloody clue!

Someone had also located his original Warriors jersey from the historic Broncos clash after it had gone missing. When reunited with the item all collectors would give an arm for, he said he was glad to have it back…but his facial expression in the picture told another story.

The unfortunate factor about his time at the club is that it has an unavoidable link with Ben’s passing and processing that grief. The Warriors stint may very well have been just what he needed, but the lingering memory is linked to tragedy. But the reason Alexander is so overtly critical of the club remains a mystery. Only he would really know the answer to that.

The reason why I don’t wear my Wellington jersey much – as nice as it is – is because I associate it with blowing a 16-point lead in 2013. Mental daggers! Is there an underlying factor that drives ‘Brandy’ to sink the boot in to the Warriors?

I think as fans we just have to live with the fact that Warrior #7 never going to fully embrace us again with open arms. However, this Warriors fan will always remember your service to the club…just give us a break every now and then!

Evidently, we’re not the only set of supporters frustrated with ‘Brandy’s’ observations:

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