New Zealand Warriors 2012 season preview



Beaten in the Grand Final last year, can the Warriors go one better in 2012?

The Warriors went all the way to the Grand Final last year and are heading into 2012 with a new coach and an exciting young squad.

Brian McClennan takes the coaching reigns and the former Leeds boss will be relishing the prospect of working with the likes of Feleti Mateo, Shaun Johnson and James Maloney.

The Warriors have lost a number of established first teamers and only Nathan Friend has come through the arrivals door. McClennan will instead put his faith in those players graduating from the Warriors junior ranks.

There is much to admire about the Warriors style but outgoing coach Ivan Cleary was a big part of their success in 2011 and it may take time for the team to adapt to McClennan .

The Warriors have the makings of an exceptional team but the feeling is that the squad may need 12 months to mature before it can mount a serious challenge.   

Prediction: 11th

Players in: Nathan Friend (Titans)

Players out: Lance Hohaia (St Helens), Brett Seymour, Aaron Heremaia (Both Hull FC), Joel Moon (Salford), Jeremy Latimore (Dragons), Shaun Berrigan (Raiders), Isaac John (Wakefield), Adam Henry (Roosters) and James Gavet (Bulldogs)

Coach: Brian McClennan – Enjoyed success with both the New Zealand national team and Leeds but 2012 will provide a stern test of Bluey’s ability to coach at the highest level week in, week ouy.

Star man: Feleti Mateo – Produced some scintillating performances last season after a couple of frustrating years in Parramatta. Mateo is near unplayable on his day.

Breakthrough year: Shaun Johnson – Made a huge impression last year and only injury prevented him from making his Kiwis debut. Expect more of the same in 2012.

Young gun: Konrad Hurrell – Tongan-born centre or winger who tore defences in the NYC apart last year and expected to make a big impression when given an opportunity in first grade.