His NRL career could very well have come to a premature end at the weekend but veteran Warriors utility Lance Hohaia is still dreaming of winning a premiership before joining English Super League club St Helen’s next season.
The 28-year-old told NRL.com today that he spent yesterday afternoon glued to the television screen as Melbourne’s 18-8 win over Newcastle ensured Hohaia and the Warriors lived to fight another day following their abysmal showing against Brisbane last Saturday night.
They face a Wests Tigers outfit that has now won nine in a row – but Hohaia said he still believed that a fairytale farewell was a genuine possibility.
“I want to finish on a good note and I’d like to think I’ve got a few more games left – it would be nice to be finishing in about three weeks’ time,” he said.
“It’s probably the only thing missing from my career in the NRL. I’ve played for the Kiwis and achieved most things but it would be nice to finish with a premiership.
“The fact is that we didn’t play anywhere near our potential on Saturday night. The Tigers are going great at the moment but before last weekend we were as well.
“I’m looking forward to the game. They’ll be tricky opposition and they’ve got plenty of shots up their sleeve to throw at us but it’s just a matter of defending well and using the ball well when we’ve got it.”
Warriors coach Ivan Cleary didn’t show any mercy to his deflated players today, forcing them to sit through a replay of their horror 40-10 loss to old rivals Brisbane.
But Hohaia said that game was little more than an aberration and promised the club would put in a much-improved showing in Week Two of the finals.
“I think the past 10 weeks, we’ve played nothing like that,” he said. “I guess we might have gotten a little bit ahead of ourselves and maybe a little bit over-confident. We forgot what got us to the finals and it brought us back down to earth a little bit.
“We had a review session of the game today, which was a bit of a horror flick to be honest, so we’re all pretty motivated to get back on the horse and train really well this week – have another crack on Friday night.
“Hopefully that’s the jab we need.”
As a long-time teammate of Marshall’s in the New Zealand Test team, Hohaia knows better than most the dangers the Tigers playmaker poses but with hooker Robbie Farah and fullback Tim Moltzen also causing problems through the middle he said it was important that the Warriors didn’t spend all their energies focusing on the man in the No.6.
“It’s going to be a big day for our little boys [around the ruck],” he said.” Our edge defence will have to be spot-on because we know how well they can play. It’s going to be an exciting game but we’ll be ready for it.”
Although Hohaia admitted to a nervous wait over the weekend to see if he would enjoy at least one more game in Warriors’ colours, he insisted that he had no regrets to leave the club after making his debut back in 2002. He is the last remaining Warrior from the club’s only grand final appearance that season.
“Surprisingly not,” Hohaia said when asked if his impending departure was weighing on his mind as the season progressed. “I’ve been really happy the past four or five weeks – more than I thought I would be. I thought it would be a bit emotional and sad but I’ve had such a great time at the Warriors and I’m really satisfied with the things I’ve achieved here.
“I’m really looking forward to going to the UK now, spending a bit of time there and traveling around but I guess once it all does finish it will be nice to sit around with the team-mates and have a few beers at the end of the season. It will probably hit me then – I’m definitely going to miss New Zealand, my team-mates and the club.”
Hohaia, who has spent the majority of his Warriors career filling various utility roles (and will again come off the bench against the Tigers this weekend), said that the opportunity to play halfback in England had been too good to refuse.
“There were a few factors [in his leaving] but I’ve been at the club for 10 years and the opportunity to go and play halfback – which is where I always wanted to play since I came into grade – that was probably the main motivating factor,” he said. “Plus a four-year deal at my age is pretty good. Financially there is a bit of security there.
“I guess I’ve always wanted to experience Super League at some stage of my career and I thought that if I didn’t do it now the opportunity to go and to play halfback might have passed me by.
“I’m just thankful that I’ve had a great 10-year career with the Warriors.”