OPINION: The Warriors will never win the NRL - unless they move
So here we are again. Another NRL season pretty much done and dusted and another disappointing one for Warriors fans. By my count that is 18 seasons out of the 22 which have been disappointing.
It’s the same old story too. Slow to start, bit of a mid-season revival then loss after loss after loss to end the season. But why? Why is it the Warriors can’t break this terrible cycle? It does not seem to matter who is the coach for the Warriors, who the star players are the same problems crop up year after year.
I hear numerous commentators and rugby league experts blame the culture at the club. The players don’t hold themselves and each other accountable enough. So does that mean if the players got grumpier with each other when things go bad they would play better? The Warriors players don’t buy into that theory and neither do I.
When asked about the culture we always hear from the players that the feeling in the club is good. Players and coaching staff are open and honest with each other. The facilities are first class. The culture is not behind the poor results.
So, either the players are lying or there is some other reason the Warriors cannot succeed in the NRL. Maybe it is not a psychological problem, maybe it is more physiological?
I think the major reason the Warriors can’t win is the travel, more specifically the timezone change. The record speaks for itself. One singular win across the Tasman this year. Overall the Warriors record in Australia is 93 wins from 266 attempts.
Every second week the Warriors players have to pack their bags, grab their passport and head over the ditch to play their away games. The flight itself is not taxing. Watch a movie or a few episodes of Game of Thrones and you are there. But it does take time to adjust to the new timezone.
Anyone who has been to Australia will know what I mean. For the first few days you are there you are waking up at 4.30am because you body thinks it's 6.30 and by 8pm you are shattered because you body thinks it’s 10pm.
This has to be tough for the Warriors players. They are only there a day or two before the game so their bodies simply have not adjusted to the new timezone. Quite often they are the later game too so kick off is 9.30pm NZ time. That is quite late to have your body fit and firing for a full on contact sport.
The Warriors are the only team in the NRL that has to deal with this. The other two sides that have to travel large distances, The Storm and the Cowboys, are always playing in the same timezone so their bodies do not need to adjust.
This effect doesn’t work in reverse either. It is a lot easier for Aussie teams to come to New Zealand. That 8pm kick off time seems like 6pm to them. No problem adjusting to that.
So if indeed the reason for the continuous woes of the Warriors is the timezone adjustment the only chance they have of success is to move.
Gosford on the New South Wales central coast is crying out for a team and the Central Coast Warriors sounds ok to me.
Now some will argue the Warriors moving across the Tasman would be the death of rugby league in New Zealand. Maybe it would be and maybe it wouldn’t but I would argue the Warriors don’t owe New Zealand rugby league anything.
Let’s not forget the Warriors are more than just a sports team they are a business. And like any business they need to make money. The last few seasons of poor results has not helped the Warriors membership numbers, which in turn has not helped finances.
A move would give membership a major boost. Merchandise has always been strong for the Warriors . I’m sure that would continue to be the case even with a move and they could bring 2 or 3 home games back to NZ to keep that connection.
I for one, as a Warriors fan, would still support the Warriors even if they move to Oz. I would still buy their jersey and I would still go to the games they play back over here because I am a NRL fan. More than that I am a rugby league fan. I want a team to support. I want that team to be the Warriors. I just want them to start winning.
Mike Roke is a Producer with RadioLIVE