Warriors look forward to NRL 'normality'

·3-min read

The 2022 NRL season has ended in more frustration for the Warriors with a 27-26 loss to Gold Coast.

However, the one bright side is that they can now look forward to a sense of normality.

No longer will they be based in Australia and have to make do with acquiring loan players from other clubs and constant sympathy from opposition teams post-match.

The cold, hard reality of the NRL became apparent this week when the draw for 2023 revealed that no additional home games will be allocated the Warriors.

This is despite constant rumours of some form of goodwill gesture being given to the club in recognition of its almost three-year pandemic-induced stint on the road, which infuriated halfback Shaun Johnson:

"How can everyone come out and say they want to repay the Warriors. Just don't come out and say anything," he said on Friday.

"Don't put the social media videos up thanking the club for everything they've done then when push comes to shove you don't put your hand up to offeranything."

His feelings were echoed by captain Tohu Harris.

"Going through those three years was extremely difficult and the longer it went, the harder it became," he said.

"But you always held hope that the 2023 season would make it worth it."

It is easy to blame the circumstances for the Warriors' poor return in 2022, but that's only really telling some of the story.

They underperformed badly on and off the field, with the general consensus being that this was easily one of their worst seasons ever.

It started in typical up and down fashion before a record 70-10 loss to Melbourne on Anzac Day set the tone for the way the rest of the season would play out.

Anchored outside the top eight, the disjointed performances led many to start looking to what sort of players the club could acquire to arrest the slide, before coach Nathan Brown fell on his sword after a 10th round loss to Manly.

A messy split from Matt Lodge led to a huge payout for the prop, with the Warriors now essentially paying his salary at the Roosters.

The mood picked up after a return home to Mt Smart Stadium yielded their two best performances of the year when they beat Wests Tigers and Canterbury, but by then the damage was done.

The result against the Titans, that saw them blow a 12-point lead in the last 15 minutes, summed up the disappointment felt across the full 25 rounds.

"We've had some tough moments this year," said interim head coach and club legend Stacey Jones.

"But it's been a tough three years, we had stuff that we tried to deal with this year that was not nice."

Panthers assistant Andrew Webster will helm the team next year, however they have lost young sensation Reece Walsh, Eli Katoa and Chanel Harris-Tavita.

Walsh and Katoa are heading to Brisbane and the Storm respectively, but it speaks volumes that Harris-Tavita is simply stepping away from the game entirely.