The Warriors are making headlines with their eccentricity and success on the field. Paul Gallen‘s request to smell Dallin Watene-Zelezniak‘s hair on national television is just one example of the weird occurrences surrounding the team. Fans, particularly female supporters, have become infatuated with Watene-Zelezniak’s luscious locks, reminiscent of the iconic Soul Glo commercial from Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America.
The Warriors, currently sitting in fifth place on the ladder, are experiencing a resurgence reminiscent of their glory days. They are attracting big crowds, playing with flair, and showcasing a formidable defense. More than 25,000 enthusiastic fans will witness their clash against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the sold-out Mount Smart Stadium.
After spending nearly three years playing solely in Australia, the Warriors‘ average attendance for games in Auckland this season has been 21,592. This number would have been even higher if not for matches being played in Napier and Wellington to reconnect with fans who were deprived of home games during the pandemic.
Their defensive efforts have been particularly impressive this season. Under rookie coach Andrew Webster, the Warriors are conceding an average of only 18.4 points per game, a statistic matched only twice in the team’s history. Stacey Jones, assistant coach and Warriors legend, acknowledges the surprise but reminds everyone that the season is only halfway through.
Webster, the relatively unknown head coach, has transformed the team’s defense in his own unique way. He did not bring in a whole new roster or staff like many coaches would. Instead, he kept the existing staff and made only a couple of additions. The recruitment of players like Dylan Walker and Te Maire Martin, who were already winners before Webster’s arrival, has proven to be successful.
The team’s success can be attributed to its simplicity and clarity of roles. According to Jones, everyone knows their job, and the focus is on solid defense and minimizing mistakes. Senior players like Shaun Johnson also have a significant influence on the team’s style of play.
Webster is pleased with the team’s progress and the positive reception from fans. However, he remains humble and deflects credit to the hardworking players. Johnson, in particular, is reveling in his best season yet, with improved defensive stats and impressive playmaking abilities.
Warriors fans have long been accustomed to their team’s ups and downs. However, recent performances have reignited their passion, resulting in high ticket sales and a surge in merchandise purchases. The club’s ‘we win, you win’ ticket promotion, offering discounted tickets after a victory, has been well-received by supporters.
In a departure from traditional Warriors form, success is becoming a regular occurrence for the team. With their entertaining playstyle and revived defense, the Warriors are poised to continue their resurgence in the NRL.