Saturday, 11 June 2016

The Aussie Invasion of Mt Smart

Written by Gareth Sykes

Much like the 4.5 million people that call this beautiful country home that the New Zealand franchise base themselves in, the fans of the Vodafone Warriors are from all walks of life, cultures, backgrounds, lifestyles and upbringings. As different as we may be, we are all very much the same.

Pride is one of the stronger traits that Warriors fans all have in common. We're well accustomed to the roller coaster ride that is part and parcel with being a supporter of the club and are forced to endure. Even in dire times, the pride we have for our team shines through. We may only be mere fans, but just as the definition of "warrior" explains, we are people who show great courage and vigour, as fans we have the ability to bring energy and enthusiasm to our team by staying true to the meaning, while in the same breath we can cast self doubt, negativity and gloom upon the very people we open up our hearts to by turning our back on what it means to be a true Warrior.

The problem with being such a proud bunch is sometimes the meaning of the word can get muddied and we can tend to lose track of what pride really means to us and what it should mean to everyone. The issue with pride is that it's an inwardly directed emotion that has two very contradicting undertones. On the one hand you have the positive version, where it refers to a humble sense of attachment, a product of praise and a fulfilled sense of belonging. On the other hand you have the negative connotation, which refers to a foolish and corrupt sense of ones personal value, narrow minded "opinion's" and/or accomplishments.

I have no doubt that while results aren't going the way we would all prefer, it's no surprise that the negative values that are associated with pride tend to rear their ugly heads more often than any of us would feel comfortable with.

Back to the topic of the article. In recent times, as well as not so recent, we've seen many discussions regarding the amount of Australian players we should have playing within our squad, if any. It would be fairly safe to assume that the majority of supporters seem to want that number slashed to allow us to bolster the numbers of Kiwi players in their absence. In a roundabout kind of way i believe that the "negative connotation" of pride seems to be at the fore front when making our voices heard with regards to this topic. Have we really sat back and considered what it is these Aussies bring to the team? Or have we just put a red cross next to their name purely because we dislike them? Or maybe because they were taking the spot of our favourite player? Do we give these guys a decent chance? Or do we just prefer to lay the boot in any chance we get?

Let's briefly have a look at some of the Aussies we have on the 2016 roster and a glimpse of what they bring to the table;

Jacob Lillyman:

Over 200 games of NRL experience as well as 11 State of Origin appearances for QLD during their years of domination. A player doesn't get picked in what is arguably the best Origin team in history if he doesn't have the goods. 2016 sees Bull as the clubs leading metre maker as well as being behind only Simon Mannering in the tackle count

Blake Ayshford:

While his arrival and subsequent addition as one of the clubs starting centres to kick off the season
had many eyebrows raised, Blake has gone on to be one of our best performers for the season. Included to the playing roster as a notable defender, at peak form Ayshford can also be dangerous with ball in hand. Currently the clubs 2nd leading try scorer for 2016, it's also worth noting the impact Blake has had on his fellow center partner, Solomone Kata. Is it a coincidence that Kata's defence has improved out of sight now that he has a centre who is so adapt with his defensive reads? I think not.

Ryan Hoffman:

Having played with the club that arguably has the highest level of professionalism within the NRL under one of the "Super Coaches" of the modern era, Hoffman brings a wealth of experience with professionalism to boot. Having also played 14 times for his home state of New South Wales and on 6 occasions for Australia, he bring an experience that cannot be taught. He took the reigns of captaincy at a time when the club was struggling without a second thought. He has a pride in the jumper and a level of expectation he commands from not only himself, but his fellow players. My money is on Ryan having a big part in organizing the "player crisis meeting" that happened just over a week ago.

Jonathan Wright:

Here's a bloke who just cops it left right and centre. He isn't as big as Manu and therefore cannot make the same metres through hit ups as him. The fan response to this? "That makes him shit!" He isn't as quick as a guy like Lolohea or doesn't possess the same lethal step as an SJ. The fan response to this? "That makes him shit!" It's important to remember that Wright has never been nor ever will be like any of the aforementioned players. Wright is a depth signing. He's there to come into the squad when we have injury or suspension and brings a level of experience to the fray with his inclusion. Wright does the job he is paid to do more than adequately.

Jeff "The King" Robson:

#Throbson as he is affectionately known. Not much to be said, he is the King. Long Live the King.


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