WARRIOR-ROO BLOG NO.8: UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY

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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 eighth edition of Robert’s ‘Warrior-Roo’ blog (find previous entries HERE):

It’s been a strange start to the season for sure. The Warriors are in the unfamiliar position of having to set up camp over this side of the ditch for the long haul. Even more unfamiliar than that, however, is the unprecedented level of praise directed towards us from the Australian media. We’ve essentially been labelled as heroes and even traditional Negative Nancys like Buzz Rothfield, Jamie Soward and Phil Gould have been singing our praises – in some cases even purchased memberships!

It’s certainly true that the sacrifice has been huge, despite what Ricky Stuart may tell you (from the comfort of his couch). Heading over to Australia not knowing how long they’ll be there, or when they’ll see their families and loved ones again is a big ask, and the team has answered the call. And it’s been A heart-warming the response from the rugby league community, particularly in Australia.

Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach – you know, the guy that delights in calling our games on FOX Sports – offered an opinion regarding the whole situation. He said, “I think the Warriors have won everyone’s respect for what they’ve done for the game, but it’s time to do something about it now”. As much as the bloke grates on me, I had to agree with him. We need to use this kind of adversity to our advantage and allow it to galvanise the playing group. The sacrifice would all be in vain if we came over and resumed our form from the first two rounds.

It started with coach Kearney’s Tuesday team list, which certainly raised a few eyebrows. CHT was dropped in favour of Kodi Nikorima, which seemed to be a regressive move. The lightweight forward pack was retained, seemingly with the big boppers either on the bench or occupying spots 18-21. Thankfully a bit of common sense prevailed with Lachlan Burr, who is not a prop in this writer’s opinion, effectively making way for a bigger body in the shape of new signing Jack Murchie. I think all Warriors fans collectively breathed a sigh of relief, because bigger is better for us right now.

Leading up to gameday a lot of my mates were asking if I was excited about seeing the boys in action again. To be honest I was nervous, really nervous. The thought of us going out there for the next 18 weeks like lambs to the slaughter really was a depressing thought. We’ve never been a club built on mental toughness, so would we be able to negotiate this monumental challenge ahead?

Well, then the game happened. I must say outside of the 2002 and 2011 preliminary finals, this is the proudest I’ve been of the club, and one of my proudest moments as a supporter. The guys turned up big time, played with heart and commitment, and really gave us long-suffering fans something to cheer about. It was a special win and will surely go down as one of the greatest in Warriors history.

There is indeed still a massive mountain to climb, but that performance alone showed us that the boys are more than up for it. This is a new team with a mixture of world-class performers, veteran journeymen, and a bunch of young guys just looking for a shot. These are now exciting times ahead and for once most of Australia is riding the wave with us.

TWL RD 3: INSPIRED WARRIORS’ NEAR-PERFECT RESTART

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