Hodges: The man to lead Warriors forward

With the knee injury to Shaun Johnson on the weekend it looks as though the Warriors will miss the finals again this year and given the roster they've got it's clear they need a complete overhaul of their culture in order to be successful in the future.

Poor Stephen Kearney won't have any hair left this time next year if they keep going the way they are going and I believe there needs to be a change in their leadership if they are to become the team that should be playing finals footy every year.

Steve has spent time at two clubs in the Storm and Broncos who have had strong leaders within the playing group to set the standards that the coach expects and who have the strength of character to tell their teammates when they're falling short of the mark.

Rather than recruiting someone with strong leadership credentials who can hold the playing group to account, they have got the players within the club to turn things around and the man I'd be appointing to lead them next year is Issac Luke.

I can see where Steve was coming from when he appointed Roger Tuivasa-Sheck as captain at the start of the year but I personally believe he's a bit too young to be the leader they need right now.

 


Watching the way they play it is clear that Issac is the spiritual leader of that team and I'm sure if he was to say something to the players around him that they would listen. I also think it would have the added benefit of bringing the best out of him as an individual.

Issac came to the Warriors from a club with a strong culture and with good leaders at South Sydney and he has captained his country before. If I was Steve I'd take Issac, Roger, Shaun Johnson, Simon Mannering and Tohu Harris and form a core leadership group, put them through leadership course during the off-season and make those guys responsible for driving the culture within the club.

A coach can set the tone for what he wants his team to stand for but it is the players who have to drive it and buy into it and at the moment it looks like there is an attitude at the Warriors where winning or losing doesn’t seem to bother them.

You need leaders within the club who will demand a winning attitude at training that will transfer to the field on game-day and from the outside looking in Issac strikes me as the type of player that can drive that best.

He has got enough senior players around him to drive that message and Roger can provide the connection to the younger players coming through but if they don't find a way to consistently bring the right attitude they will continue to disappoint.

I had really high hopes for the Warriors at the start of this year. When they are on there is probably no better team to watch in the NRL but to in all likelihood miss out on playing finals for a sixth straight year shows that something drastic needs to change internally.

Talent has never been their issue but more than ever they need the right people driving their culture so that talent can reach its potential.

Final thought

The celebration of the women within rugby league this week is only fitting for the contributions they make both at a personal level and as volunteers and professionals within our game. I'm extremely fortunate to have had two strong women in particular in my life in my mother Cheryl and my wife Gyanne who have been there for me when I've been doing it tough, not to mention the newest lady in my life, my beautiful baby girl. Growing up in Cairns Dad was the coach but more and more when I'm at junior footy games today I see ladies in all manner of roles, whether it be as coach, manager, referee or a club official making sure everything runs smoothly. This is a special week to say thank you to the women in rugby league but we should be grateful for their contribution each and every week.