13 hours ago
Off the Wall
It is entirely possible that this time next week the New Zealand Warriors will be the holders of the three premierships decided on grand final day.
This is a remarkable success story. And it is made even more so because the Warriors have had numerous ownership issues, and financial challenges, in recent years.
The Warriors do look to be good things in the NSW Cup grand final and in the Toyota Cup grand final. On the basis of their form on Saturday night, they will give the Manly Sea Eagles a real run for their money in the NRL premiership.
What this really confirms is that New Zealand is becoming a powerhouse in rugby league, thanks largely to the growing influence of Maori, Samoan and Tongan players.
We have seen its impact in the test match arena, where the Kangaroos dominance has been significantly eroded.
Now it is flowing through to the NRL premiership, and two of the key feeder/breeding grounds for the premiership.
And in the other key breeding ground - the Queensland Cup - the influence of Maori and Island players is on the rise.
The Warriors success will add to calls for a second New Zealand team - Wellington - in the NRL. But when you look at the financial state of most NRL clubs today there won't be any expansion before 2015, if then!
Browsing the NZ newspapers online today has been a pleasant surprise - the coverage of the Warriors win is not bad given that New Zealand is currently hosting the Rugby World Cup.
And there is a nice touch to the story - Prime Minister John Key has personally intervened to make sure Michael Luck's two week old son cane be with his parents at the grand final - waiving the normal delays in securing a passport/travel document.
The Warriors play the kind of football that should bring the crowds back to the game.
There defence is sterling - the frustrated Storm players would testify to that - and their attack is an attractive as that of any team in the game.
They can be inconsistent - such as their bad loss to the Broncos in the opening round of the finals. But thereafter they have accounted for two of the highly rated finalists - the Tigers and the Storm.
The match is unlikely, however, to set any television ratings records - but that is the price you pay when you have a New Zealand team a premiership contender.
But any downside is outweighed by the remarkable on the field success story of the Warriors three grand finalists - it will do the game no harm at all in New Zealand, and at test match level.