Dale Budge: Poor recruitment bodes badlySave
By Dale Budge
The hits just keep on coming for the Warriors.
They missed out on star Kiwi forwards Jesse Bromwich and Jason Taumalolo and now their longest serving enforcer Ben Matulino may be headed for the Wests Tigers.
For a side that is quite clearly missing go-forward, the Warriors appear to be taking an unusual route with their 2018 recruitment. Unusual in the sense they don't appear to be doing anything at all (aside from the pre-season acquisition of impressive second rower Tohu Harris).
They continue to wait on free agent halves Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran to make a call on their playing careers while the other 15 clubs continue to pick away at the best from the free agent pool.
The Warriors hardly have a roster capable of winning the NRL this season and it is getting harder to see it improving in 2018. If, and it is a big if, managing director Jim Doyle can re-sign both Johnson and Foran he'll only be ensuring the status quo.
To achieve his goals, he needs to bring back both halves and then look to improve the forward pack and the outside backs if the club is to break its premiership duck any time soon. They have the cap space to do that.
I take no pleasure in criticising the club but it is hard to see exactly what they're trying to achieve with their roster management. It is never a good idea to have your two highest-profile players off-contract at the same time, especially when both are halves.
Mistakes made with recruitment in the past few seasons are really hurting the Warriors and if they continue to make poor decisions now that could lead to further damage in the seasons ahead.
Manu Vatuvei continues to chew up a huge chunk of the cap and has contributed little since Doyle re-signed him shortly after the former NZRL boss arrived back in Auckland.
It would be a miracle if Vatuvei were to give them any kind of return on the remaining year-and-a-half left on what can only be described as a terrible deal for the club. The Warriors are still paying former centre Konrad Hurrell, who is now playing for the Gold Coast Titans.
They signed a work-horse back-rower like Ryan Hoffman to help compensate, presumably, for the poor defensive qualities of a number of the club's outside backs when what they needed was a dynamic offensive threat.
And they continue to operate with big outside backs to compensate for their lack of go-forward up front. That leaves them with a lack of finishing or speed out wide.
To use a baseball term, the Warriors need a table-setter or two - a guy who will lay the platform for the stars to work off.
They need either forwards who can create momentum or outside backs who have fast feet out of dummy half and can get sets going that way. At present they don't really have much of either and there isn't much left available.
Doyle has a long history of success in various management roles but he is taking one heck of a gamble waiting on Johnson and Foran. Missing out on one would be a big setback but losing both would set the club back for the next few years.