Season 2020 is over, we now look toward the finals.
What would have happened if the New Zealand Warriors didn't agree to come to Australia and keep the competition going?
What would have we done?
The Warriors hopped on a charter flight and arrived in Tamworth on May 3rd. Yes, they've been here and away from their families for almost 5 months.
That's sacrifice and lots of it.
In that time they've lost their coach Stephen Kearney, but in the process they have unveiled another excellent leader in Todd Payten, who takes over at North Queensland next year.
Up until a few weeks ago when they lost to Cronulla, the Warriors were still in finals contention. How you wonder? With all the cards firmly stacked against them?
They capped the year off with a 40-28 win over Manly. But despite all the wonderful tries and enterprising play, the best thing I saw on Sunday was Des Hasler's men tunnelling the Warriors team on to the field to start the match.
That was classy, Manly showing their appreciation for what the NZ boys had done for the competition.
It's also the end of the playing career of Adam Blair. Fittingly, he finishes it off against Manly. Remember when Blair and Glenn Stewart went toe-to-toe at Brookvale Oval that night? I've loved Adam Blair ever since.
The other bit of class we saw from the Warriors was from their skipper, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. He did has hamstring and had the option of going home, how tempting would that be? You kidding?
But RTS wanted to stay, he didn't want to leave his teammates, he'll head back with the rest of them tomorrow.
Excellent leadership. Dally M Captain of the Year.
Season 2021 will hopefully be a little kinder to the Warriors, they get a new head coach with Nathan Brown taking over the reigns, whilst Phil Gould is going to be there to help steer the ship as well.
RTS has signed back on for next year, Addin Fonua-Blake is heading across the ditch and the Warriors have won the hearts of everyone. They're now everyone's second favourite team, if not # 1!
To all the New Zealand Warriors players, coaches, managers and other support staff, we thank you for your sacrifice in allowing the competition to go ahead in 2020, no doubt you're all looking forward to an extended amount of family time over the coming weeks.
See you in 2021!