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Vic examines the Warrior Wildcards
With pretty much all the attention in the rugby league world this week being focused on Lockyer's face it's been a great week for the other preliminary finalists to fly under the radar, not unlike a Broncos chartered chopper, into the year's penultimate round.
This is no truer than for the Warriors, a team whose place in the finals has been ignored by most and openly questioned by others. Much like their general season Ivan Cleary's men have been both rocks and diamonds in the semis so far, a trend that in many ways has helped masked the very real threat they pose to this year's premiership.
A quick look through the team list shows that the Warriors have surprisingly few weaknesses in their squad. The backline is young and loaded with pace whilst the forward pack is arguably as hard headed and tackle happy as any other in the comp. Smart halves. Even the bench oozes internationals.
This is in stark comparison to their opponents the Storm, a team that who is loaded up with blue chips in its key positions but very much blue collar in others. Consistency has been the cornerstone of Melbourne this year, and whilst no one could do anything but congratulate them on what they've achieved this season a life or death game against their unpredictable bogey team isn't exactly the kind of stress Craig Bellamy's heart needs after his last 12 months.
On top of this is the scary fact that the Warriors really do have nothing to lose. Whilst big things have been predicted for the club over the next couple of years with their dominant Toyota Cup teams and signing of coach Bluey McClennan anything they achieve from this week onwards would just be a bonus. Sure, from a marketing perspective a Warriors grand final win in the middle of New Zealand's rugby union world cup would be great ammunition for the game itself, but even the most ardent Warriors fan would realise that a rolling at the hands of the Storm on Saturday night would not be the signal of doom that it once might have been seen as.
So whilst the Warriors faithful who make the trek to the game this Saturday will know better than to get their hopes up the fact that they are raging underdogs, hot and cold form wise and have generally received as much attention as the late night news on SBS all garner well for an upset for the ages.
Not that I want to talk up their chances or anything.