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Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s decision to pull up stumps on his NRL career six weeks early – and the club’s call to allow him to walk – is another sign the Warriors have put the cue in the rack as far as the 2021 finals are concerned.

The Warriors are on a seven-match losing streak and sit in 14th place, yet they remain only six points outside the Top 8 with six (relatively winnable) matches remaining.

Following last week’s 60-22 beatdown at the hands of South Sydney, the Warriors have blown out to $91 to make the playoffs and $251 to win the premiership. Last week, they were $11.60 and $81 in those markets, respectively.

RTS’s exit, along with that of Leeson Ah Mau, and a casualty ward headlined by Tohu Harris, Wayde Egan, Addin Fonua-Blake, Chad Townsend, Chanel Harris-Tavita and Rocco Berry, has resulted in most punters and pundits writing off any chances of a Warriors late-season miracle.

Tuivasa-Sheck’s Warriors résumé needs no embellishment. The former Rooster became the Warriors’ first Dally M Medal recipient in leading the club to its first finals series in seven years in 2018, won three straight Warriors Player of the Year gongs from 2017-19, and was named Dally M Captain of the Year in 2020.

Every fan will forever remember the soon-to-be All Black’s lightning feet, herculean metre-eating efforts and stunning catalogue of try-saving (and sometimes match-saving) tackles.

He leaves as the only player to wear the Warriors’ No.1 jersey in 100 first-grade matches and just the second player to captain the club in 100 games. Yet RTS will depart with a record of 43 wins, 67 losses and one draw in his time with the Kiwi outfit – a win rate of just 39.19 percent.

Interestingly, the Warriors have gone 11-13 with Tuivasa-Sheck on the sidelines since his arrival in 2016. Since the start of 2018, they have won four of seven without the skipper – plus one desperately unlucky Anzac Day loss to Melbourne.

RTS has unquestionably been the Warriors’ best player of the past five years. But the team’s overreliance on him has been a perennial issue – and they have shown an ability to step up and compensate when he’s not there.

Meanwhile, a breakdown of the Warriors fullbacks with the best winning percentages makes for fascinating reading. Of those who have donned the No.1 jumper in 30 games or more for the club, Ivan Cleary is unsurprisingly way out in front with a win rate just shy of 60 percent. But next on the list is stopgap Lance Hohaia, maligned British recruit Sam Tomkins and the wayward Kevin Locke before getting to the celebrated Brent Webb, the previous record-holder for most games as Warriors fullback. It would surprise many that the electric Wade McKinnon comes in below Matthew Ridge on the list – particularly given the Warriors made the finals in three of his four seasons in Auckland – while RTS runs stone motherless last with a win rate a shade over 40 percent in games he has started at fullback.

Ivan Cleary – 25 wins, 17 losses (59.52%)
Lance Hohaia – 25 losses, 22 losses, 1 draw (53.13%)
Sam Tomkins – 18 losses, 19 losses (48.65%)
Kevin Locke – 26 wins, 28 losses (48.14%)
Brent Webb – 40 wins, 47 losses (45.98%)
Matthew Ridge – 16 wins, 20 losses (44.44%)
Wade McKinnon – 21 wins, 27 losses (43.13%)
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – 42 wins, 62 losses, 1 draw (40.48%)

Brilliant rookie Reece Walsh isn’t exactly off to a flyer, finishing on the winning side just once in his seven starts at fullback – and enjoying only two victories in his 10 first-grade appearances to date.

But his sole win as an NRL custodian was against this week’s opponents, Wests Tigers, when he produced three dazzling try-assists and a wonderful try in a 30-26 result in Round 11.

Walsh is on course to top the Warriors’ 2021 tryscoring table, crossing seven times already – one behind Ken Maumalo, who linked with the Tigers mid-season. The teenager has failed to dot down just once in his last eight appearances.

Walsh is $1.83 to find the try-line at any stage on Friday night, equal with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak among the Warriors’ Anytime Tryscorer options. Maumalo is $1.50 to score against the club that jettisoned him less just six weeks ago, on the second line of betting behind fellow Tigers winger David Nofoaluma ($1.40).

The Warriors are $2.55 outsiders to beat the flighty, 12th-placed Tigers at Suncorp Stadium and are getting a 6.5-point start. The Total Match Points line is set at 55.5 – which five of the teams’ last 10 clashes has exceeded.


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Categories: Team News + Stats, WARRIORS NEWS

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