Beer, cigarettes, KFC, New Zealand Warriors. We humans sure are gluttons for punishment. Get ready Warriors fans – you are in for a season of hope, despair, denial and pain.
With a team that boasts Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Issac Luke, Ben Matulino, Simon Mannering and Ryan Hoffman, you’d think the Warriors would be one of the sides to beat in season 2017.
Add a little Tui Lolohea, a dash of Solomone Kata and a bit of Manu Vatuvei and you’d put your mortgage on a premiership.
Twice the Warriors have made the NRL grand final. Once in 2002 with Stacey Jones at his mercurial best and again in 2011 when Johnson burst onto the scene. Both times they lost. In hindsight, they may have overachieved just getting there. The time spent flying back and forth from Auckland is enough to give you nausea. Yet here we are in 2017 with the news coming through on Wednesday that premiership-winning playmaker Kieran Foran had been cleared to join Johnson, Tuivasa-Sheck and Luke and make his return to the NRL.
Theoretically, the Warriors should be favourites.
But they can’t be.
This is still, after all, the Warriors.
The NRL confirmed Foran would be available from round three.
“Naturally I would love to return in round one because I love rugby league and I love being part of the Vodafone Warriors,” Foran said.
“But both the club and NRL have put my welfare first throughout so I am just happy that my contract is registered and I now have a date for my return.”
Turn the speakers up, let off the fireworks and let’s all go marching in on the back of elephants – Prince Abubu style.
We’re falling for it again. Don’t get sucked in people. Fight it!
Until the Warriors win the premiership, none of us should tip them. Ever.
The Warriors have ruined more tipping competitions than a Waterhouse on a half-time show. And if there wasn’t enough pressure on new coach Stephen Kearney, the bloke puts the C next to Tuivasa-Sheck’s name.
RTS is coming back from an injury that did nothing to cover for the fact that prior to his ACL tear in 2016, the former Sydney Rooster was struggling at his new club. Now he’s captain.
You can also say the same for South Sydney legend Issac Luke who battled injury, fitness and form throughout a frustrating campaign.
Johnson hasn’t played in the finals since 2011 – the year they lost to Manly-Warringah in the decider.
“It’s disappointing to end our  season the way we have,” he said after the Warriors lost their last four games to be scratched from the playoffs race.
“I’m over it, obviously. It is frustrating. It feels like crap.
“We all put in so much effort. We know the talent we’ve got. We know the roster we’ve got and we expect a lot more of ourselves.”
There’s no excuses. Should have never been any.
But let’s put these 2017 Warriors up on the dunking tank and aim for the head.
The NRL is a small blip on the world’s sporting map but you can call the Warriors the NRL version of the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers. This NBA powerhouse already had Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol on their list and added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. For a team that expected nothing short of an NBA Championship, this awesome foursome was disbanded after just one year.
There’s the 2011 Boston Red Sox, Brazil’s 1998 Football World Cup side, 1991 New York Rangers, the 2004 United States Men’s Olympic basketball team and the New Zealand Warriors.
Why should they be written off now without a ball being kicked in anger?
Because it’s better than putting that mortgage on them and failing miserably…again.
First appeared on www.the81stminute.com