Warriors’ Head Coach Nathan Brown says his squad needs to learn from Monday’s record 70-10 loss to the Melbourne Storm, remember the progress they’ve made and turn their fortunes around against the Raiders at Moreton Daily Stadium this Saturday.
Brown wants the Warriors’ younger players to learn from the experience and the impact of their mistakes to become better players but says, with a short turnaround to Saturday’s clash with Canberra, coaches and players have to address it quickly and move on.
“When the bad things happen, you’ve just got to front up and cop it and then you’ve got to move on and turn it around. That’s the key for us,” Brown says.
“Coming into the Melbourne game, we all felt we were making some reasonable progress and then obviously at half-time we felt we were probably a touch unlucky not to be leading the game and then obviously what happened after that is not acceptable in anyone’s standards.
“That second period of the game was not what anyone wants to happen or what anyone should expect.”
His comments followed his assessment post-game that some players took the “easiest option”, effectively giving up on the game.
When asked how the club builds pride in the jersey and a never-say-die culture, Brown says it takes time.
“It’s not easy and we had some players obviously in the second period that were a fair way off where they’d like to be. Melbourne are probably unlike any other team in the comp, they find one or two players not quite on their game or find where they perceive is a bit of weakness and they certainly don’t let up … other sides do let up. We obviously had a couple of players, in particular, who lost their way a little bit and lost their confidence and sometimes that can have a bad effect on people around them.
“As a group we needed to compete a little bit better to help those people, but we had some individuals which really got knocked around a little bit and Storm can do that like no other team. It wasn’t that long ago they put 60 on South Sydney and South Sydney came out and made the Grand Final. It’s not that we accept it and wanted it to happen … it’s disappointing and the key for us is we take some lessons out of it and move forward.”
Injuries to Josh Curran (knee) and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (concussion), Aaron Pene’s suspension and the dropping of Edward Kosi will create opportunities for young centres Rocco Berry and Viliami Vailea, and new signing Christchurch-born North Queensland standoff Daejarn Asi, 21, who has joined the Warriors for the rest of the 2022 season.
When asked about Kosi’s performance, Brown says Saturday was a tough day for him.
“He’s only a young, developing player – played probably seven or eight first-grade games – the wing, when things go bad for you and you’re out there on the wing or at fullback, sometimes it’s a pretty lonely place. In the middle of the field there’s a lot more people around you so it stands out a little bit more (on the wing),” Brown explains.
“He was obviously very disappointed after the game. I had a chat with him the next day and he was obviously still very disappointed. Being mindful he’s a young player and social media these days, all the players spend their spare time on social media … from what I understand social media was very nasty to him.
“This is part of Ed’s journey of being an NRL player. Not many of us play NRL and don’t have some performances where we get a kick up the backside from the coach. It’s only a rare, few players that go in there, stay in there and have a pretty smooth career. We all have some setbacks along the way. This is a little one for Ed. Our job is to help him move forward and Ed’s job is to help himself move forward as well,”
Pompey, who was among those who also had a bad day at the office, is still in the team because of his performances in the three weeks leading up to Monday’s loss to Melbourne.
Brown says he has spoken individually to players, who did not perform to the standard he expects and there were also meetings with coaching staff and the playing group before they left Melbourne.
So, what is he expecting from Canberra, who are coming off a 36-6 loss?
“For a fair chunk of that game, they actually played extremely well against Penrith. Penrith had far more possession and won a lot more penalties,” Brown says.
He adds that the Raiders have played periods of games this year when they were playing better than their opposition.
“They just haven’t put 80 minutes together properly, similar to us at different stages. We had a very good first half the other day and a very bad second half,” he says.
“We had two games here and we’ve had two wins. We’re mindful to put out another good one. We’ve had pretty decent support the last two games (at Moreton Daily Stadium) and we’d be hopeful of getting some good support again even though we obviously didn’t put a great foot forward in the second half the other day.”
Josh Curran was having scans on his knee today but Brown says his early guess is that Curran will be out for at least a couple of weeks.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has passed the initial stages of the HIA process, but it is not clear if he will be out of action for one week or two.
“It was a pretty bad knock, a pretty nasty one. He has recovered quickly, so he’ll definitely miss this week and we’ll have re-evaluate him next week,” Brown says.
In good news, Jack Murchie and Ben Murdoch-Masila are in contention to make comebacks from injury with Murchie (calf) included on the interchange in jersey #17 and Murdoch-Masila (leg) named in #20.
Ash Taylor’s stint on the sideline due to a hip injury is likely to continue for some time yet, according to Brown who says it is looking like a longer-term injury.
“There’s only two options – there’s either going to be a positive response or not a good response. We’ve just got to be mindful from our point of view that we were heading in the right direction and certainly made some good progress on last year. If we called the game of at half-time, we would have all thought as a club we’re certainly going really in the right direction,” Brown says.
“When what happened happens, it certainly sets you back on your heels a bit and knocks everyone around a touch. The players are off today and are back in tomorrow and we’ll be expecting a really good response from them.
“We’re going to put a team out there that’s more than capable. We’re quite buoyant the boys will respond positively.”
“It’s hard to argue with people being very critical when these things happen,” Brown says.
“Myself, personally I’m the head coach. I’ve got to take a huge chunk of that responsibility – obviously there’s a little bit for players take as well. I think people need to be mindful that some of these boys are young and whilst being in a high-performing sport comes responsibility, it’s fair for people to be critical of some of the younger boys but be mindful they are young and they are still learning their trade. In Ed Kosi’s case, he’s far from the first person the Melbourne Storm has taken to task. I’ll give you the tip.”
Vodafone Warriors V Canberra Raiders
Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe
Kick-off at 3pm
For tickets head here
See the Redcliffe Dolphins’ Hostplus Cup side take on the Blackhawks at 12.15pm.