• Will Cashmore

The Set Of Six: NRL Mediocre Players – New Zealand Warriors

This one will limit its disrespect and mickey taking more than most.

As rugby league fans we should forever thank the New Zealand Warriors as an organisation from top to bottom, but especially the players and their families.

They came across the ditch and took permanent residence in the Land of Oz for almost an entire season, without the ability to see cherished loved ones, all for the sake of the future of the NRL as we know it. Much like writing that sentence, it was an almighty effort.

So Shot Uce, Chur Bro and Thank You Very Much Warriors Family.

But...there have still been some frankly Whakatāne(ing) crap players to wear your jersey in the past.

So despite their sacrifices, the NZ Warriors still deserve their time in the SET OF SIX sun.

Omar Slaimankhel (2012) – 5 Games

Omar Slaimankhel is a name very few fans of the game, let alone Warriors fans would recognise. The man only played 5 games in the NRL, but goddam he might just have the best journey of anyone.

Slaimankhel is the son of Afghani refugees, spending the first two years of his life living in Kalu Khurd, Pakistan just 110km from the Afghani border, before him and his family moved to NZ when Omar was still an infant.

Naturally, Omar was the first and only Pakistani born NRL Player. He spent much of his time in first grade as a bench utility or late pre-game replacement, however, he still has plenty to be proud about.

Sorry to Terrence Seu Seu for this next fact, but it’s necessary gimmick infringement. In true Mediocre NRL Player fashion, Omar Slaimankhel is also the first and only Omar to ever play NRL footy.

He’s the owner of two cool firsts in the game. What a legacy.

John Palavi (2014-2016) – 5 Games

Those of you who are loyal followers of these articles, will remember I mentioned in an earlier SET OF SIX that NRL SuperCoach would be mentioned often.

Well this guy is the holy grail of SuperCoach References. He has a special place in NRL SuperCoach Folklore, or rather infamy.

Heading into the 2014 NRL Season, eager SuperCoaches had one Lock (pun intended) in their team, and that was debuting rookie Warriors Lock/Second-Rower John Palavi, who was a certain starter at bottom dollar value. As we call it in SuperCoach he was the fattest of Cash Cows.

But in a move which has SuperCoaches still triggered to the point where most of us went bald from a lack of hapiness, Palavi was dropped never to return in Round 3. This rendered him useless, as he could not make any cash because a player must play 3 games to do so.

For those that actually understand what I’ve just said, don’t worry I’m still fuming too.

Sam Tomkins (2014-2015) – 37 Games, 14 Tries

Gosh I really am getting tired of profiling the truly bad careers of Super League Imports in the NRL, but this one is inexcusable really.

The man dubbed ‘The British Billy Slater’, I know there has been a few of them but believe me Sam was supposed to be the real thing, landing in Australia as a mammoth signing for NZ at the time.

Having carved out a tremendous career in his native England prior to moving too the NRL, Tomkins was a terrific Fullback with blistering speed, and sensational ball playing skills. Needless to say it didn’t work out in the NRL.

Look, Tomkins had his moments, but the British Billy Slater he was not. He was hardly the British Josh Dugan.

One of the NRL’s most recent disappointments, Tomkins returned home in 2015 citing home sickness in a fake but probably real but definitely fake excuse.

Bill Tupou (2010-2013) – 64 Games, 31 Tries

Bill Tupou will go down as one of modern NRL’s worst Grand Final wingers, right up there with Jonathan Wright and Todd Byrne.

Tupou was the best of a bad bunch in 2011 when the Warriors shocked many to make an unlikely Grand Final appearance. Again, like Wright and Byrne before him this is something Tupou can hold over Wally Lewis’s head until the world ends.

Bill is one of those players that started his career pretty well, not making a hell of a lot of noise, but plying his trade well enough. However, as time goes on you just know he was born to play in the Super League.

Tupou made a much bigger splash in the Super League pond though, especially when he scored an 11 minute hat-trick against Wigan, when playing for Wakefield Trinity.

Feel free to stay there bro.

Charlie Gubb (2013-2017) – 40 Games, 1 Try

Who doesn’t love a cult hero? Clearly the NZ Warriors fans do, because Charlie Gubb was Uber popular during his tenure at his beloved Warriors.

Gubb was a no-nonsense shaggy-haired Prop Forward, with a big head – mind out of the gutter people – and big kissable lips – minds in the gutter people. He was an iconic fixture in the Warriors XVII across his time, and brought the Kiwi crowd to their feet with every barnstorming hit-up.

This fandom was well deserved too, since Gubb remained loyal to the Warriors before his career even began. After marketing himself by sending numerous highlight tapes to every Australian NRL club, Gubb found himself with many options to hit the big time, but ultimately he stayed in NZ and the rest is history.

Charlie Gubb, what a guy.

No but seriously have you see this bloke’s hair – its legit.

Kevin Locke (2009-2014) – 88 Games, 26 Tries, 24 Goals

The man with the biggest baby face in Warriors history. What Locke lacked in sized, he made up for in heart. He was a handy goal-kicker as well, but the diminutive Winger is mainly remembered for two things.

The first, is his outstanding performance against the Roosters in 2010, where he scored a hat-trick in New Zealand’s 20-18 victory over the Chooks, the third of which was scored on the bell at a soggy Mt Smart Stadium.

The second, is the excruciating injury he suffered when colliding with the goalpost at full speed, in the act of scoring the match-winning try. Apart from maybe Jharel Yow Yeh’s broken ankle and slapping penalties in an Origin game, this moment is quite possibly the toughest to watch in footy.

Watch it, and you will never disrespect another Warrior again.

Did we miss anyone out?

Who would be in your Mediocre Warriors Set of Six?

Next up...not telling, but here’s a clue: Triple N.

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