Kearney defends under-fire forwards
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has stood up for his forwards as they attempt to put the battering dished out by the Roosters behind them.
The Roosters came to Mt Smart last week with a clear plan to target the Warriors through the middle and the home team failed to match them, which set the stage for the 32-0 drubbing.
In all three of the Warriors’ losses this season (against the Broncos, Storm and Roosters) they have been outmuscled up front, leading to questions about whether the Auckland club can compete with the stronger packs in the NRL.
But to borrow one of the Warriors’ long-time mottos, Kearney is keeping the faith with his men in the middle.
As they head into tomorrow’s clash against Parramatta, Kearney said he has seen enough across the first 10 rounds to be confident in their ability to go forward.
‘‘We did a pretty good job against the Dragons. Everyone’s talking about them being the best forward pack in the competition,’’ Kearney said.
‘‘That’s not an issue. We’d like to be better than we were on Saturday night, there’s no doubt about that.
‘‘When we’ve played our best footy our forwards have laid a pretty good platform for us. They’ve done a pretty good job in seven out of 10 games so that’s enough for me.’’
Indeed, when the team has performed this year it has been on the back of hard, direct running from the likes of Bunty Afoa, Aganatius Paasi and Sam Lisone.
But the last five weeks have shown the Warriors have yet to get to grips fully with the weekly grind of the NRL.
Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck said the entire squad was given a valuable lesson last week about the importance of turning up with the right attitude.
‘‘The NRL is a real tough competition,’’ Tuivasa-Sheck said.
‘‘We can always bring the energy to training, be real keen to play but when you have a team like the Roosters who came out and they wanted it a bit more than us, they were a bit more hungry than us, that just shows that when you’re ready to go on the day you get the win.’’
While the last five weeks have shown that the Warriors are still a work in progress, they have developed a good track record of bouncing back from poor performances.
Last month’s loss to the Broncos was followed by a colossal defensive display to hand the competition-leading Dragons their first defeat.
They were also far too good for the Wests Tigers a week after being embarrassed by Melbourne on Anzac Day.
And after the players were left ‘‘hurt’’ by their effort against the Roosters, Kearney has been pleased by their reaction at training.
‘‘In this competition it’s about picking yourself and owning your performance,’’ the coach said. ‘‘We addressed that the next day with our review process and worked on a way forward.’’