Shifting focus to NZ Warriors

By: Blogger

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

It’s that time of year again where Sideline Sid looks into his crystal ball and directs his gaze at the fortunes of the New Zealand Warriors, before they kick off their NRL campaign in couple of weeks time.

Amazingly this is the 25th season for the team that represents the hopes of the countries rugby league fans, against fifteen Australian clubs vying for the title of arguably the best rugby league club in the world.

The journey began on March 10 1995, when the then DB Bitter Auckland Warriors kicked of their journey against the Brisbane Broncos at Mt Smart in front of a full house.

While narrowly beaten 25-22, they showed that they could cut it in their debut into the furnace of rugby league.

To say that the Warriors have had a roller coaster ride on their rugby league journey in the last two and a half decades is a colossal understatement - like saying that the All Blacks are a fairly good rugby side.

While the Warriors have a base of fans that have supported "our" team through the highs and lows without wavering, it would be fair to say that Sideline Sid has been a Warriors follower rather than a true-blue card carrying fan.

It has been hard keeping the faith when the team has seemingly fallen apart, as in the long consecutive losing streaks in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

If this writer needs any reminding of his support of the Warriors, it's proved in his hallway with the very large 1995 framed jersey, and the complete debut season players and games record.

The 1995 Warriors made a respectable start, to finish 10th of twenty teams, with 13 wins and nine losses.

Ten points for anyone can remember the coach and captain (John Monie and Dean Bell respectively).

Sean Hoppe was the top try scorer and Gene Ngamu the top goal kicker. Current Warrior coach Stephen Kearney and Stacey Jones were also in the 1995 team.

Back to the roller coaster ride.

The New Zealand Warriors sole piece of BRL silverware is the JJ Giltinan Shield they received as 2002 minor premiers.

They made two NRL Grand Finals losing to the Sydney Roosters in 2002 and the Manly Sea Eagles in 2011.

The lows are many and while they have never had the dubious honor of the wooden spoon, they have been close on a couple of occasions.

It has been the capitulations by 30 and 40 points over the years, which has kept Sid from going from follower to a true-blue fan.

What does Sideline Sid want from the New Zealand Warriors in 2019? - nothing more than RESPECTABILTY throughout the season with no blow-out score lines.

His major concern is that they appear to have no replacement for Shaun Johnson.

Apart from that, they have what looks to be rock solid forward pack and plenty of battle hardened players out wide.

No less than the playoffs will be seen by Sideline Sid as an acceptable pass rate for the 2019 NRL season

Go the New Zealand Warriors