Come kick off this Saturday afternoon, it will be 70 long days since we had our last taste of Warriors action, and a shade under nine arduous months since the Warriors last tasted victory – with a late rally securing a final-round upset against the Raiders.
Isolation combined with no live sport fix has left fans salivating for the return of the NRL. But after having a two-month reset to work on the issues that plagued the Warriors first two matches of the season, does it have that new season freshness and hope about it? Most would argue not.
In a lacklustre start to the season in 2020, the side only managed to score six points and are only sitting above last place due to the Titans’ woeful points differential. Three wins in their last 10 NRL games doesn’t make for pretty reading – particularly with a poor pre-season sandwiched in the middle.
For players like Gerard Beale, Lachlan Burr, Blake Green, Patrick Herbert, Peta Hiku, Adam Keighran, Taane Milne, Isaiah Papali’i, Leivaha Pulu and Nate Roache, who are all unsigned for next year, every passing week could be their last in the top grade with the Warriors.
The side have also had a number of injury setbacks, as well as having to shift their base to Australia for the time being, with no timeframe on when they will be able to see friends and family again. To add to the unprecedented times we now live in, reinforcements have been called in by way of loans from other NRL clubs. Players with a point to prove to their parent clubs, that they can cut it at NRL level.
The travel factor has been taken out of the equation now – distance wise. If COVID-19 didn’t put a halt to things, the Warriors would have faced three trips back and forth to Australia for their next five games, totaLling 11,256 kilometres compared to just 1,187 kilometres over the next five games between their temporary home of Gosford, and away games in Sydney and Melbourne.
Without wanting to sound like the voice of gloom, here’s a quick refresher of where things stood after Round 2 before the coronavirus sports shutdown:
46 – Comparatively, after the first two games in 2019, the Warriors had scored 46 points compared to just six this season.
9 – The Warriors lost their opening two games of a season for the ninth time in their history.
20 – The side also conceded 20 points or more for the eighth occasion in their last nine games.
0 – They were held scoreless after 80 minutes for the first time since May 2018, when they failed to score against the Roosters.
39 – This also ended a 39 consecutive-game run of scoring points in a match for the Warriors.
4 – They conceded the first try in a game for the fourth consecutive NRL game. Each time, conceding in the opening 15 minutes.
4 – Four players made their debuts for the club. Wayde Egan, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Eliesa Katoa and King Vuniyayawa took the total number of players to represent the Warriors to 243.
2000 – Eliesa Katoa became the first Warriors player born in the 2000s. He follows on from Dean Bell (1960s), Sean Hoppe (1970s), Wairangi Koopu (1980s) and Siuatonga Likiliki (1990s).
312 – Adam Blair broke the record for the most first-grade games by a New Zealander, overtaking former Raiders and Warriors legend Ruben Wiki who played 311 games. Blair’s tally consists of 121 games for the Storm, 71 for the Tigers, 74 for the Broncos and 46 for the Warriors.
Statistically speaking, how do things measure up vs the Dragons?
It has been nearly a year since the Warriors have faced off with St George Illawarra. And whilst recent fortunes have gone the way of the Warriors, historically they are our toughest opponent in terms of wins. The Dragons also got off to a bad start in 2020, losing their first two games – but at least showing some fight and putting 42 points on the board.
Head to Head
27 – The Warriors have won just eight of their 29 games overall against the Dragons, a winning percentage of just 27%.
4 – However, they have won four of the last six encounters, including last year’s Magic Round victory which was also played at a neutral venue, Suncorp Stadium.
3 – The Warriors are on a three-match winning streak against the Dragons, having previously won just one of their last 14 games in this contest – and never back-to-back in the history of the rivalry.
1 – Tellingly, the 2019 result in Brisbane was the Warriors’ only victory over the Dragons at a neutral venue, having previously lost convincingly at Eden Park and in Wellington and Hamilton.
2 – The Warriors have won two of their three games played at Gosford, with wins over the Roosters and Manly dating back to 2001.
471 – The Warriors have scored 471 points against the Dragons in their history – their lowest against any other current NRL team.
24 – Meanwhile, the Dragons average 24 points per game against the Warriors – the second-highest points per game against the Warriors by any other current NRL team. That figure is behind only the Storm (25).
3 – Stephen Kearney has won just three of eight encounters against the Dragons in his coaching career. After losing five straight games against them, starting with three in his time in charge of the Eels, he is now on a three-match winning streak.
0 – Gerard Beale has never scored in his 10 career outings against the Dragons. The only NRL side he has played against, and has not scored a try.
1 – Wayde Egan, Kodi Nikorima and Peta Hiku have all only been involved in one win in their last seven NRL games. Egan’s lean run includes his last five games for the Panthers.
378 – The Warriors have lost 378 combined games’ worth of NRL experience with injuries to Nate Roache, Jazz Tevaga, Leeson Ah Mau, Adam Keighran, Taane Milne and Bunty Afoa.
Milestones have been on hold for a few weeks, but finally
150 – Kiwi international backrower Tohu Harris will make his 150th NRL appearance. This will be his 33rd outing for the Warriors, having previously played 117 times for the Storm.
50 – Journeyman forward Lachlan Burr will make his 50th NRL appearance. It will be his 26th game in Warriors colours, adding to one game for the Bulldogs, and 23 for the Titans.
49 – Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck needs just one more try to bring up 50 in his NRL career.
It can only be onwards and upwards for the Warriors from here. There is a little more clarity around things after the uncertainty they faced last time they ventured over to Australia. With potential loan players coming into the mix and the playing field being levelled somewhat across the competition there is no better time to restart their season and give their fans something to cheer about.