New Zealand Warriors: The run home...

What’s going on in the land of the long white cloud? Well Ivan Cleary’s hair is going greyer, that’s for sure, but as far as what the Warriors are doing wrong, who knows?

One thing is for sure - their attack isn’t really clicking. The points have dried up for the once freewheeling Warriors and last weekend was the first time they scored more than 20 points since way back in their round five loss to the Knights.

All of which might be OK if their defence was better but they are just the ninth best defensive unit in the NRL and that means losses. Hopefully last week was the dawning of a new era and not before time as Warriors’ fans will be wondering what has happened since the highs of '07 and '08 when they looked like world-beaters.

The Run home: Dragons (H), Panthers (A), Titans (H), Eels (A), Raiders (H), Bulldogs (A), Storm (H)

There is nothing easy about the Warriors run into the finals, absolutely nothing, but they can take heart in the fact they have a good record against the Storm with two victories and a draw in their last three meetings, so if it does come down to needing a victory in the final round - it is achievable.

The key match for the Warriors is this week at Mt Smart against the Dragons. Whilst the Dragons have seemed to sweep all before them this year, the Warriors gave them a close call in round 8 when they lost 12-11. With the Dragons coming off the bye, they may actually be ripe for the picking. If the Warriors can spring an ambush their season might just get back on track.

Players to Watch:
Kevin Locke
– If you are yet to see this kid play, you must have been living in a cave and you need to watch a Warriors game! At just 20 Locke is blowing away all before him with youthful enthusiasm and blinding speed. He is the physical opposite of the Warriors' other winger, Manu Vatuvei, giving him 14 centimetres in height and 33 kilograms in weight!

The Warriors' inaugural Toyota Cup Player of the year, this kid needs to be seen to be believed.

Wade McKinnon – McKinnon seems to be working as hard as ever and features in both the top 20 runners in the NRL and in the top 20 metre gainers, but the explosiveness which has been there in the past just seems to be lacking a little bit this year. McKinnon is still effective and a very good fullback but if the Warriors are to make the finals, he needs to lift his team and bust the defensive line more often.

Predicted finish: 13th