He’s hardly the biggest name signing the Warriors have made for 2016 but the fit is about perfect. Form Sharks halfback Jeff Robson’s move to the Warriors will give them something they don’t have – balance.
Robson is your prototypical no-frills, old school NRL halfback. The ones that used to be in vogue before the likes of Thurston, Johnson and Marshall popped up.
The veteran Cronulla half is the perfect one-year rental for the Auckland club, brought in to help the development of youngster Tuimoala Lolohea, reserve half Mason Lino and even the club’s chief play-maker Shaun Johnson. In Robson they get a player who has survived in the NRL for a decade on the basics. There is no razzle-dazzle about him. The Warriors don’t need more of that – that’s why they spent the bulk of their cap on Issac Luke, Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. They need the glue, the direction, the guy who produces the smart play when the temptation of the flashy high-risk option is in the back of one of the other players’ minds. If he can help show Johnson and Lolohea – the Warriors halves of the future – how to win games without relying on their x-factor all of the time then they will be getting close to being the full package. You don’t want to coach the x-factor out of those guys but having someone around to ensure it isn’t over-done and to give them direction in other areas will only help their long-term development.
While Robson’s signing – a low-end salary on the cap – is hardly a major improvement to the side, it is the impact he will have on a couple of the higher profile players that will really improve the Warriors performance.
My guess is he will start alongside Johnson in the halves next season with Thomas Leuluai moving to the bench to spell Luke at hooker. The reduced interchange will place greater workloads on all forwards – hookers included and having twin dummy-half options will be back in vogue. Luke will spend time playing as a running back-rower I would guess. Lolohea will start the season in the centres or on the wing but will continue working at his game with a move to the halves the longer term plan. It could be that he takes over before the season is out or he may be ready the following season.
With one final piece of recruitment still likely, a low-end but experienced prop to add to the rotation would round out the 2016 squad assuming no contracted players are released. It will be a much different looking roster to the 2015 one and shapes as a squad that should contest the finals for the first time since 2011.
Well done Jim Doyle.