Could this also be the year for our own New Zealand Warriors? It is the Warriors’ 20th year in the NRL, and they have had a typically up-and-down season so far. Some big wins over the Titans and Raiders in the last few rounds came at a good time, lifting them into the top eight as they prepare for the rest of the season in what many say is one of the toughest competitions in the world. The Warriors had their final bye round last week to rest and prepare for a crucial match against the Melbourne Storm, who sit one place ahead but on equal points on the NRL ladder. This fixture always throws up a good match, and Round 18 will see one of the top attacking teams (the Warriors) taking on one of the best defensive units (the Storm). The Warriors have a pretty good record against the Storm and will be confident of consolidating their position in the playoff spots. The Warriors may also be helped by the Storm not having some of their State of Origin players available because the Origin series decider is in Brisbane on Wednesday night.
Whether they win or lose, the Warriors will remain long odds with the bookies to actually win the competition, but the recent signings of Kiwis Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke have got many people quietly confident that next year will be a big year for the Warriors. However, the team will still have their eyes firmly fixed on the remainder of this season; making the playoffs should be an absolute minimum requirement for this team, given their attacking skills and the depth of talent we have in New Zealand, which has many in the game calling for a second New Zealand team. Having three of their last four games away from home isn’t the best way to end the season, but the Warriors always seem to find a way to get the job done.