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Each day most of us go into work to earn a miserable living in a hectic job to pay a mortgage. And then a lot of us sacrifice paying my mortgage off quicker to pay for tickets, merchandise, to support our beloved football club. In my case, the Warriors.
We would all be made redundant if we gave as poor a performance in our occupations as the New Zealand Warriors players have given for all of 2004. There is innuendo of player disharmony, of players wanting to move on.
Firstly, these players are paid six figure salaries and rarely have to suffer the pains most of us have to suffer. They do not have to worry about if they have budgetted well enough to pay for their mortgage or pay the rent. They do not have to worry about sacrificing to buy a decent vehicle to ensure they get to work on time. Most of their choices are easy; which house do I buy? Which car do I buy? Which school do I send my children to? Which club do I play for?
There are many Warriors fans who have been shattered, torn apart, heartbroken by the nightmare that has been season 2004. A season that promised so much; second favourite to win the premiership. Now they are second favourite for the wooden spoon. After all but three games, fans have been left to stare blankly in disbelief, or punch a punching bag to relieve stress from another shambolic performance. The players waltz off the park, seemingly oblivious to what has just happened. Fans are suffering, indeed personally after the Roosters game I would be physically unable to carry myself off the ground if I were on the roster. Mentally I would be shattered, not consolable. Empty. Morbid.
It seems in this never ending season of loss after controversy after loss that the players have an attitude of "She'll be right", "There's always next week." Problem is, there will not always be a next week. You see, another two or three losses this season and a seemingly unquestionable berth in the top eight goes out the window. I guess though the players can feel comfortable that there will be an extra three or four week holiday this season?
We have all heard that several players are reportedly unhappy at the club. How can you not be happy being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to toss a football around? Do they have the slightest inkling as to how much hard, strenuous work gets done by those who pay their salaries by coming through the gates? Still, they are extremely loyal and keep turning up, keep buying the pies, keep buying the jerseys, keep paying the salaries.
The news to them is, sooner or later these people will not still be around. You can only destroy someone so many times before they say enough is enough; you can only disappoint so many times before the average fans thinks about knocking a year or two off his mortgage by watching the game down at the local pub instead of at the game with his family.
There are several bad habits that have crept into the Warriors games. Woeful execution of mid to long range kicks often ending up either out on the full, or to the opposing fullback on the full allowing an easy return of the football. The number one prop of the club has developed over the past eighteen months an atrocious habit of dancing, badly, like Billy Idol with several stutter steps before reaching the oncoming traffic. Indeed, that is even if he has the courage to take on that traffic; another habit that has crept into his game is the no look pass to no one before the line and, when on most tackles being belted backwards throwing a hopelessly hopeful pass to no one in particular.
The fact of the matter is there are several extremely talented players on the roster. While its easy to take pot shots and say the club needs more Australians, its fair to say these same critics were not aiming up last season in a semi-successful season. It does not matter the players nationality, rather the players courage and pride in the jumper. There are two hulking 100 kilogram plus wingers at the club with exceptional speed, an enormously gifted fullback, a Kangaroo prop, a Kiwi immortal half. There is more than enough artillery to succeed on paper. In the heart currently its a different matter. Its there, and in the top two inches the club needs drastic improvement, along with extreme work on the players fitness.
Its high time these overpaid players realised the pain they are putting their fans through. Its high time they realised how disgraceful their efforts have been. Its high time they realised the excuses have worn thin. Its high time they realise how easy their jobs are in comparison to those that pay for them to live a pretty comfortable life. If they do not realise this now, then sooner, rather than later people will realise there are other ways to spend their money. And sooner, rather than later, rugby league will again become rugby unions poor cousin in New Zealand. The Warriors could have been a big part of the saviour of international rugby league, there are 30,000 juniors there, the question is, is there the heart and courage to use their pure skill and salvage season 2004?
On the evidence of the first eleven performances of 2004, it does not look likely. How disappointing for the average, 'loyal' fan.