Warriors inspired by second chance
Their season looked dead and buried after they were thrashed in the opening round of the Finals, but the Warriors always believed they could do something special in 2011.
They charged into the Grand Final with gripping victories over more fancied rivals in consecutive weeks, and now the Warriors have issued a warning to Grand Final opponents Manly, the New Zealand based side still has a lot of improvement left in them.
A last gasp try to Krisnan Inu against the Wests Tigers kept their season alive before a piece of Shaun Johnson magic against Melbourne catapulted the Warriors into Rugby League’s showpiece event.
It could have all ended in the first week of the finals.
The Warriors season looked all but over when a rampant Broncos outfit smashed them in the opening round of the finals 40-10. It prompted Coach Ivan Cleary to remark “we have no right to have a game next week”.
As they say, a week is a long time in football.
The side that had “no right to another game” went on to issue the last-rights to the Tigers and Storm on their way to the grandest stage of them all.
Halfback James Maloney says the lessons learned from that humiliation in the opening week of the finals steeled his side and once they were granted a second chance – they made sure they grabbed it with both hands.
“I think that Broncos game, it was just collectively 17 blokes were just that whisker off and Semi-finals it doesn’t take a lot to get found out, so we learnt from that,” Maloney told NRL.com.
“We are building, the Tigers game was a game of two halves, we probably only played our best footy in the back half of that game and it was a little bit better against Melbourne and obviously if we keep going in the right direction it might be a good thing on Sunday.”
The Warriors have quickly adopted the underdogs tag heading into Sunday’s decider, but this is a genuinely talented football team, confident they can take the Premiership trophy away from Australia for the first time.
“I think ever since the Brisbane game everyone wrote us off,” Maloney said.
“But in house we had the belief that we could do it and I suppose that is all that matters.
“We will go in with a bit of belief in ourselves, you’d be crazy not to, it is a two-horse race and no doubt if we play our best we will be in with a shot.”