Warriors go simple in bid to save season
At the point of the season when game plans should be second nature and the level of play peaking, the Warriors this week accepted the frustrating reality that they need to simplify their approach.
After 22 games and 1782 minutes of NRL Telstra Premiership footy this year, Andrew McFadden's side have fallen back into sloppy habits over the past two weeks, headlined by individual handling errors which have starved them of possession.
Ahead of Sunday's must-win clash against fellow top-eight hopefuls the Wests Tigers, veteran five-eighth Thomas Leuluai said they would employ a different approach in the hope of reducing mistakes.
"We have changed what we are focussing on this week to really simplify it, so we are not making silly errors coming out of our own half," Leuluai said.
"Maybe it's a mindset…we are focusing on a simpler sort of game plan I suppose, a possession game plan.
"Possession and controlling the ball – that is two weeks in a row with too many errors coming out of our own half – it sounds quite simple [to fix], but sometimes it isn't.
"I think the ways things have gone in the last couple of weeks we need to clarify a few things and make things that we haven't really had a focus on… make them a focus this week.
"But at the end of the day it comes down to the individual."
In going down to the Rabbitohs 41-22 in Round 23, and Cowboys 34-6 last Saturday, it hasn't been the total numbers of errors which have hurt the Warriors, so much as the timing and areas of the field where they have occurred.
In the last fortnight the Kiwi side have often been guilty of coughing up ball early in tackle counts while coming out of their own half, which has seen them forced to make 658 tackles across the two games and battle against lopsided possession counts.
With the Warriors now requiring victories from both of their remaining games – as well as two losses from the Gold Coast Titans in order to make the top eight – McFadden couldn't hide his disappointment this week when asked about the club's current situation.
"There is no doubt there is a lot of disappointment that we have let the opportunity go when it was in our hands, and our performances the last two weeks haven’t been great so that is disappointing," McFadden said.
"[It is] frustrating that [individual errors] have happened in the last couple of weeks that is for sure, because when we had that consistent run it wasn't part of our game.
"Again the individuals, we have had a few changes in our team unfortunately in the last couple of weeks and sometimes that has an impact on cohesion, but the individual errors players have made, we just can’t have that at this level.
"But we are still trying hard, still working, we just need to focus on the next two games."
The Warriors' season could be over before a ball is even kicked in Auckland on Sunday, with a Titans victory over Penrith on Saturday night confirming Gold Coast's top-eight finish.
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