WARRIOR-ROO BLOG NO.12: TIME TO TOUGHEN UP

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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 12th edition of Robert’s ‘Warrior-Roo’ blog (find previous entries HERE):

I won’t sugarcoat it, these are dark times for the club. The hiding we copped from the Storm on Friday night just compounded the issues at hand. Basically the less said about the game the better. The boys tried and were well in it for the first 20 minutes. But when the Storm scored against the run of play and then skipped away to a 22-0 lead the heads dropped.

Interim coach Todd Payten’s post-match press conference was raw and actually refreshingly honest. I also believe he has really hit the nail on the head by addressing the lack of toughness in the team. I think primarily he was referring to the on-field performances, but I believe that extends off the field also.

There were rumblings before the game that a few of the boys wanted to pull up stumps and head home. This was confirmed post-match with ‘Fus’, Big Ken, and ‘Iggy’ declaring their intention to return to NZ to reunite with their families who were denied access into Australia. It’s well known the close-knit dynamics of Polynesian families and the tight bond they share with their whanau. Maumalo and Paasi have young children back in Auckland, while Fusitu’a and his wife are expecting. Family is everything, and there aren’t too many people around that would disagree with that.

Having said that, there are a few issues that need to be addressed. Firstly, it’s understood that owner Mark Robinson has given the players an ultimatum that if they don’t return to Australia and play then there’s no pay packet. This is nothing surprising and would be a condition of most workplaces. These players have signed lucrative contracts to play the game they love for a living and to represent the club. Admittedly these are extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances. However ,at the same time they are professional athletes, contracted to the club that pays them well. I can understand the difficulties of being separated from family for an indefinite period, but I would argue that a significant loss of income in exchange for being with your family is detrimental to the family long-term. Barring some kind of clause in the contract, this is a very real prospect for those that wish to return to NZ mid-season – no pay, or even contract termination.

TWL RD 7: WEARY WARRIORS FAIL TO WEATHER STORM

I will throw my two cents in here and say that working away from home for long periods of time is not uncommon throughout the world. My wife is originally from the Philippines, and for them it’s extremely common for the father and sometimes mother to work overseas and send money home to support the family. They’re called OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and sometimes can only return home once a year. They do this out of necessity to provide for the family who would otherwise struggle. This is the story of my father in law, who has worked in Sudan and Dubai long-term. While this is tough for the family, they accept that this is how it has to be and honour the sacrifice for the benefit of the family.

I understand that these guys went over with the promise that their families would be able to follow. However, there’s little that the NRL can do if it’s a national border issue. I can also understand these guys being extremely upset, but I wonder how much the axing of coach Stephen Kearney and the on-field struggles have contributed to this? I can’t help but feel that if the club was winning then they wouldn’t be so quick to want to bail. At the end of the day we as fans want to cheer on guys that want to be here and put their heart and soul into repping the jersey.

Going back to Payten’s comments about lack of toughness, unfortunately this is not a recent problem for the club. The failure and unwillingness to get into the grind and overcome adversity has plagued the club for the majority of the past decade. Gone are the days of the big comebacks because the boys drop their heads as soon as we fall behind by two or three tries. We cough up massive leads because once the momentum swings we’re unable to dig in and turn the tide back in our favour. We can’t rally and win a few consolation games for the fans because the season is gone, so why bother? It just really hit home listening to Payten on Friday, and hopefully it’s a penny-drop moment for the guys.

Yes, these are tough times and yes we’ve sacrificed more than any other club to keep the competition going. But what are the boys going to do about it: return home with their tails between their legs, or stand up and fight?! Fight for the sake of your families, your loyal supporters, and most importantly for the great club that we all love and desperately want to see succeed!

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