David Fusitu'a of the Warriors after the team was defeated by the Raiders in round 23.
David Fusitu'a of the Warriors after the team was defeated by the Raiders in round 23. DAVID ROWLAND

Titans fiasco shielding mess at the Warriors

ONE NRL club thrilled to bits the Gold Coast Titans are airing their dirty laundry in public is the Warriors.

Yes, the Titans are certainly a club in trouble. Deep, dark trouble. And how the powers-that-be wrangle themselves from the poisonous tentacles that are slowly strangling the club will be a sideshow in itself.

To have slipped so dramatically from their great position of promise last season, when they were widely tipped to take the wooden spoon yet played finals for just the third time in their history, reeks of more than a coach-player issue inside the camp. To have lost four in a row since round 19 this year, when again appearing to be finals bound, it is obvious a cancer within has taken hold.

But the Titans are not the only NRL club in a mess. And they may not even be the messiest.

While the issues at the Bulldogs have been well documented, how have the under-performing Warriors escaped the media blowtorch? Surely the question needs to be asked whether the Warriors deserve to be in the NRL premiership competition.

A club with such wonderful resources has become a basket case. And I say that with the greatest respect for coach Steve Kearney, one of the nicest people I have met during my time in rugby league.

First admitted to the competition in 1995 - along with the Cowboys - they understandably took a few years to find their feet. But when they eventually did make the finals - in 2001 - it became something of a habit. For the next 11 years they played finals footy seven times and were twice beaten grand finalists.


Shaun Johnson of the Warriors leaves the field with team doctor John Mayhew after being injured during the Round 19 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and Penrith Panthers at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand on  Friday, July 14, 2017. (AAP Image/David Rowland) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors leaves the field with team doctor John Mayhew after being injured in round 19. DAVID ROWLAND

During that period, beating the Warriors, particularly at home, was a major achievement. But in the six years since Ivan Cleary left as coach, the Warriors have gone backwards and with three games remaining in 2017, they will be genuine wooden-spoon contenders if they can't beat the Rabbitohs tonight.

Worse still is the recent record of their NYC team, traditionally the competition powerhouse. In the decade-long history of the NYC the Warriors have won three premierships and been runners-up once, a genuine indication of the prodigious natural talent that abounds across the ditch.

But even that power base has abated in the past few years. They finished 14th last year and this season are dead last, with just three wins. Two weeks ago they were beaten 70-4 by the Knights, who are sitting sixth.

A standing joke these days is, "How does an international become a reserve-grader? They go to Auckland."

Harsh that may be, but surely Kieran Foran, Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Scheck are perfect examples. Their careers have gone backwards since they returned "home". And others, like Shaun Johnson and Ben Matulino, have simply not become better players in the Warriors environment over recent years.

Much interest currently centres on a bid by Auckland businessman Paul Davys, who is keen to buy the club, and, if successful, has vowed to fix the problems. Davys has given current owner Eric Watson until today to accept his offer.

Presumably Davys has a magic wand.