2 Sep 2016

Once were Warriors?

11:13 am on 2 September 2016

Analysis - Another season, another sigh of disappointment from New Zealand Warriors fans.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden speaking to media at Mount Smart Staduim, 11 May 2016.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

For the fifth consecutive year the Warriors have failed to make the finals of the National Rugby League competition.

At the start of the season they were touted as top-four hopefuls after signing star hooker Isaac Luke and fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck but injury prevented them from living up to the hype.

A group of Warriors also created headaches for the club when they mixed energy drinks and prescription medication the night after their biggest loss of the season.

Injury and scandals aside, the Warriors' failure to make the top eight has raised questions about whether head coach Andrew McFadden is the right man for the job.

McFadden is the first person to admit he made mistakes.

"You don't learn in this game unless you make mistakes so I'm sure I'll be able to sit back and say I've made a few but I've made a lot of good decisions as well and I'm very proud of that.

"I haven't compromised, it hasn't been any self preservation in this - I've always made the decisions in what I think are the best interests of the club and I'll continue to do that."

Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman and his dejected team mates.

Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman and his dejected team mates. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It's not the first time McFadden's capability has been questioned but after falling short of the playoffs again, the heat is on both him and Warriors managing director Jim Doyle to find answers quickly.

But while critics ponder McFadden's ability, Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman believes McFadden is the right man to carry them forward next season.

"Not everything comes down to the coach, we've been prepared well all year and you need make sure that as an individual you're prepared well and you'll need to make sure you're ready for the game on the weekend."

The Warriors' defence has been their achilles heel for many years - last weekend was a classic illustration ... leading West Tigers by six points with 10 minutes to go, only to let in three tries and lose by 12 points.

Solomone Kata scores a try for the
Warriors in their loss to Wests Tigers.

Solomone Kata has been a break-out star for the Warriors this season. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Former Warriors and New Zealand Kiwis coach Frank Endacott said defence was crucial, but the real key to turning around the Warriors fortunes was keeping them healthy.

"The success of a team getting into the top eight is always a team or squad of players that has gone through [the season] with very little injuries and you've just got to look at teams like the [Cronulla] Sharks for instance, who was an unfasionable team at the start of the year but because they've had no injuries they've got through the year well."

Endacott said he backed McFadden for another season and believed the problems lay more with the players.

He expected some of those players would need to find a new club next season.

But McFadden insists he's not planning a move.

"I love being part of professional sport, it's certainly been challenging but one that I've walked into.

"I still love it, there's no doubt about that. I'm very attached to this club, they're the club who've given me my first opportunity and I want to keep working hard for them."

McFadden's contract runs till the end of next season.