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Warriors CEO says it will 'take years' for the club to recover

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Warriors chief executive Cameron George says it will take the NRL club years to get over their two-and-a-half year COVID-enforced exile as they prepare for Sunday’s homecoming match against Wests Tigers.


Some 60 matches and 1039 days since they last played at home, having relocated to Australia as the pandemic hit, the struggling Warriors will hope for a huge boost in front of a sell-out crowd.

They flew into Auckland on Monday and were greeted at Mt Smart Stadium on Tuesday with a traditional welcoming ceremony as the build for the clash continues.

But George admitted even an emotional win couldn’t paper over cracks that have emerged in recent times, the side riding a seven-game losing streak that included the departure of coach Nathan Brown.

“I feel for our club in general. It’ll take years to get over what we’ve been through, but on the face of it, we have to get through it pretty quickly,” he told reporters.

“We can do that by going out in the field and winning for our fans first and then we can rebuild the club behind the scenes, both financially and structurally to get it right.”

While many thought the carrot of returning from their Queensland base would inspire increased performance, George said it had the opposite effect with a number of deficient performances in their recent losing run.


“I thought it might have really inspired the guys over the last couple of months, but I think what’s happened is they’ve had their eyes on the prize of coming back,” he said.

“It may have just had their mindset focusing on this, so they get to live the dream and the emotions on Sunday and we’re looking forward to that.”


Halfback Shaun Johnson admitted he wasn’t sure how he and his teammates would be greeted after their recent poor form.

His team have gone 21-39 in their 60 games since they last played at Mt Smart and sit second-last on this season’s ladder with a 4-11 record.


“Coming back, you weren’t sure how you were going to be received, especially after the last couple of months,” Johnson told reporters.

“But the feel around town, people in the shopping centres, wherever I’ve been are so excited to have us back.

“I’ve certainly felt the love already and I know the boys are going to get to experience that this weekend.”

Forward Tohu Harris, who’s been with the Warriors throughout the exile, admitted putting pride back in the jersey was top of the priority list, agreeing with interim coach Stacey Jones’ assessment they lacked resilience.

“Teams in the past here at the Warriors, they always fought right to the end, and that’s something we’ve got to show we’re willing to (do),” he told reporters.

“We need to be better in those areas to fight back and turn the momentum back in our direction.

“Those sorts of things are really important because if we don’t have the resilience the opponent will just get too much momentum and pile on too many points.”


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Shaylen 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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