It is looking brutal for the Warriors in 2019, with the huge loss of Shaun Johnson likely to see them drop down the ladder.
They finished 8th in 2018 and won 15 games, which was a very good season considering that they were only one win behind the Roosters, Storm and co.
Aside from Johnson, they have also lost Simon Mannering (to retirement), Albert Vete, James Gavet and Mason Lino, who would have been extremely valuable coming into 2019 as the Warriors are going to be relying on a rookie halfback this season. The signing of Leeson Ah Mau is unlikely to make a significant impact on the team.
The side will rely heavily on their star fullback, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, while Tohu Harris will once again be asked to carry a significant load in the forwards. Isaiah Papali’i shapes as a genuine breakout contender with a starting edge role on offer.
Check out all our pre-season content below:
2019 GAINS & LOSSES
Gains: Leeson Ah Mau (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2021), Lachlan Burr (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2020), Jackson Frei (2019), Adam Keighran (Penrith Panthers, 2020)
Losses: Manaia Cherrington (released), James Gavet (Newcastle Knights), Anthony Gelling (Widnes Vikings), Shaun Johnson (Cronulla Sharks), Mason Lino (Newcastle Knights), Simon Mannering (retired), Zac Santo (released), Albert Vete (Melbourne Storm)
The obvious loss of Johnson is huge, and his spot will be filled by one of three rookies (more on that later) – Mason Lino would have been very handy in 2019. Mannering has retired and fringe forwards Gavent & Vete are both gone, with Ah Mau the only significant arrival. Lachlan Burr could be a smoky for some game time after “#trainingthehousedown” this pre-season.
LIKELY STARTING 17
1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Peta Hiku / Gerard Beale 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Blake Green 7. Hayze Perham 8. Leeson Ah Mau 9. Issac Luke 10. Agnatius Paasi 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. Tohu Harris 13. Adam Blair 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Sam Lisone 17. Leivaha Pulu / Lachlan Burr / Ligi Sao
The #7 jersey is the main point of contention here, with Perham, Keighran and CHT all in the mix. The rest of the team is pretty straight forward, with maybe just the last bench spot up for grabs. I’m interested to see how the back-row performs, in particular, Papali’I who could be in for a big season. The outside backs are likely to see a downturn with the departure of Johnson to the Sharks.
Teams they play twice: Broncos, Titans, South’s, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sharks, Raiders, Manly,
Teams they play once: Bulldogs, Tigers, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Eels, Dragons, Panthers
First five games: Bulldogs, Wests (A), Manly (A), Titans, Souths (A)
The Warriors first four games are all against teams that missed the top 8 last year, and as such their first six weeks is the easiest in the competition (based on 2018 ladder positions). Unfortunately from rounds 7 to 11 they have the second hardest draw in the comp based on the same metrics. Overall it is not a bad draw and they should / could get off to a fast start early in the season.
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I am a Warriors fan – but honestly, I can’t find a gun amongst them. RTS would be the closest thing but with the other options at fullback, I can’t see RTS fitting into many sides this year and Tohu Harris will likely drop back to the pack due to the loss of Johnson and he’s averaged just 14 games per season across the past two years.
Isaiah Papali’I ($462,400, 2RF, 2018 PPG: 49.4, 2018 MPG: 66)
Isaiah Papali’i had a strong year in 2018, playing 19 games and averaging 66 MPG, well up on the paltry 23 MPG that he averaged in 2017. In the 14 games during the 2018 season where he played greater than 60 MPG he averaged 60 PPG and in the 10 games where he played the full 80 minutes he averaged 63 PPG. These games were all played on the edge. I would suggest that his minutes will remain around that 65 MPG mark again in 2019, with the Warriors playing a utility and a combination of 4×40 minute front rowers. Should this be the case then he represents value in 2019 given he starts priced at an average of 50 PPG.
Nathaniel Roache ($246,000, HOK/CTW, 2018 PPG: nil, 2018 MPG: nil)
Rumours have been circulating over the past week or so that Issak Luke could be on his way to the Eels. Should this eventuate then this would make Nathaniel Roache SuperCoach relevant. He faces competition from Jazz Tevaga for the starting hooker position (should Luke leave), but Tavaga was used through the back-row last year and could do so once again, which could see Roache’s minutes increase significantly on the 34 per game from 2018.
Issac Luke ($484,900, HOK, 2018 PPG: 51.8, 2018 PPM: 71)
Issac Luke had a good year in 2018, increasing his MPG slightly from 68 to 71, and his average PPG from 49.4 to 51.8 (very consistent PPM). His attacking stats may increase without Shaun Johnson, however with Jazz Tevaga and Nathaniel Roache in the squad his minutes may dip ever-so-slightly. A bonus will be if he takes over the goal-kicking duties, but this may fall to incoming half. There are probably better options at the position.
Note: the above is written based on him remaining at the Warriors this year.
David Fusitua ($444,900, CTW, 2018 PPG: 47.5, 2018 MPG: 80) – David Fusitua is the hottest and coldest of all the wingers in the NRL, and without his main try assist source Shaun Johnson at the club I can only see him regressing this season. There is enough historical evidence to support this statement.
Peta Hiku ($420,200, CTW, 2018 PPG: 44.9, 2018 MPG: 72) – Peta Hiku managed to increase his average PPG from 31.4 in 2017 up to 44.9 in 2018, however along with the other Warriors outside backs it is likely that their attacking stats will drop this year without Shaun Johnson in the side, and as such is a stay away with no upside in 2019. Will battle it out with Gerard Beale for a starting spot.
Rookie Warriors #7
Whoever gets the spot out of Adam Keighran, Chanel Harris-Tavita or Hayze Perham should see some solid early season price increases and become close to the most popular player in all of SuperCoach.
Lachlan Burr ($196,900, 2RF) – Lachlan Burr has 24 games of NRL under his belt from 2013 to 2016, and then spent the 2017 season in the UK before returning to the Bulldogs in 2018, however, he was unable to crack the NRL side. Kearney has said that he sees Burr as a front rower, and reports have him #trainingthehousedown in the pre-season. Will be sniffing around the bench, and at close to base price could be worth a look if named in the 17 for Round 1. Watch him in the trials.
Taane Milne ($181,100, CTW, 2018 PPG: nil, 2018 MPG: nil)
Taane Milne has joined the Warriors this season after having some issues at the Tigers over the last couple of years and will be a solid back-up for the New Zealand based side in the centres. Given his low starting price if injuries do strike and he gets his chance then he will be worth a look.
Check out all of our other 2019 Club Previews below: