Duncan and Aaron discuss the inglorious end to the Warriors season (detouring through the way Mt Smart’s running track deflates the home side), the ABs new personality and an extended discussion about New Zealand sportsmen’s acting abilities – with particular reference to the on-screen career of Stephen Fleming.
http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F5364489%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-3XlG8&secret_url=false DeadCast: BALLS! 029 feat The Warriors, The Tri-Nations & NZ Sportsmen in Advertising by Deadball
It was over before we knew it – literally in this case, as few had predicted that both The Panthers and The Tigers would succumb to their lower-ranked opponents. So this Warriors season, which a few days ago seemed so potent, is now over.
While it’s always hollow when your team drops out, this one didn’t hurt so bad. I was trying to figure out why. Because it doesn’t really make sense – why would you feel less saddened by the exit of a team which had come home so strongly, and which spells the end of the Warriors career of some guys you had loved – among them Brent Tate, Steve Price and Wade McKinnon.
The answer’s contained in the fact that the latter two weren’t at Skilled Park to witness our final roll of the dice. McKinnon was down the coast preparing to turn out for his Wests Tigers, while Price never took the field in the pointless final year of his contract, one which hamstrung a club which he claimed to love so dearly with a figurehead on big money who was a distraction at best for their young core.
Tate was a great servant of the club, and I never felt like he was anything less than 100% committed to it. But the trio were our marquee players during the period 2008-2010, likely eating well over a million dollars worth of salary each year. Of the combined 228 games they might have played for the club during that period, they turned out for a combined 111. That’s a shade under half the games we contracted them to play. If you want to know the source of the team’s struggles during that period, that’s a pretty good place to start. Continue reading
News came in this morning that Manu Vatuvei has signed an extension through to 2013 on his contract with the Warriors, believed to be worth over $500,000 a year. As a long-suffering (is there any other kind?) Warriors fan that made me extremely happy. On The Crowd Goes Wild last night Mulligan and Richardson were discussing whether Manu was the best player in the game. They were incredulous about the thought even existing, and it does seem silly to say it out loud. But I think it might also be quite valid.
Why? This season he’s tied for fourth-highest try scorer in the NRL with 17, and among those with more than 15 only Israel Folau has scored at a greater rate per game. While the Sydney media gets wound up about ‘The Thriller’ Uate and ‘T. Rex’ Williams, because they watch them every week, Vatuvei has quietly become perhaps the most devastating finisher in the game. Continue reading
New Dunedin mayoral candidate (seriously/excitingly) Aaron Hawkins and Duncan talk live on radio 1 about Warriors rosey playoff hopes, Bill Harrigan’s monumental blunder (and general weirdness) , the ICC cricketer of the year awards (and why Brendan McCullum’s presence makes a farce of them) and the indie-sports coalition discussed by Bethlehem Shoals on Deadspin.com recently.
http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fdeadball%2Fballs-025&secret_url=false BALLS! 025 by Deadball
Duncan Aaron talk about The All Blacks humiliation of The ‘Boks over the weekend, The revival of the Warriors, ‘The Decision’, The way this Tour de France is shaping up as a classic with many more to come… And that’s about it. A good time.
http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fdeadball%2Fballs-023 BALLS! 023 by Deadball
No way out
It’s really tough to not let yourself get sucked into this Warriors team right now. They’re a side which wasn’t expected to do much at all this season by pundits or fans, with an awkward combination of very raw kids; over-the-hill, injury-prone vets clogging salary space and head cases in their line up. They had just changed captains in the off season, and there were whispers about the coach and the front office staff – John Hart in particular.
So to find ourselves well inside the eight in mid-July is surprising to say the least. Even better, they’ve done it with most of their salary cap on the sideline. The team which won against Parramatta two weeks back had an average age of 23, and around 50 NRL caps apiece under their belt. Apart from Brisbane’s injury-ravaged start, there won’t have been many greener sides fielded this year. They were without captain Simon Mannering, Steve Price, Brent Tate, Joel Moon, Lance Hohaia, Jacob Lillyman, Kevin Locke, Sam Rapira and Wade McKinnon, who they’d parted company with earlier in the season. They’ve gotta be $2.5m, easy.
They got Mannering back for the weekend’s match away to Penrith, and turned out the most heroic defensive game I’ve ever seen. Shayne Hayne’s preening, patronising, astoundingly incompetent performance was exactly the kind of spanner which would have seen a slender 12-6 half-time lead become a 12-40 full-time thrashing in pretty much any previous Warriors team. We’ve never handled adversity particularly well round here. But despite what no less an authority than Bob Fulton called “the worst refereeing performance in the last 20 years”, those young dudes just put their heads down and tackled like animals for most of the second half. It put this year’s Origin to shame for tenacity, and created some of the most infuriating, enthralling sport you’ll in this or any other year.
It was a game that will become part of the side’s lore, that will live in the memory of fans forever. But it should also be a salutary lesson in where this club’s strength lies at the moment, and how it should spend its money. This winning streak is not being created by the big dollar Australian imports (though the attitude and work ethic of Michael Luck was written all over that win). It’s young, hard, unflashy home-grown kids who are doing it. They are deserving of their spaces, they’re playing together and for each other, they have incredible chemistry, and it is precisely the latter which I think is most valuable, and makes the rumours swirling around the likes of Steve Matai all the more worrying. Continue reading