There has been much debate about whether Kieran Foran is the missing piece in the Warriors puzzle. Would the club have been smarter to invest the money in an aggressive prop, or a backrower with some attacking flair?
Before discussing what signing Foran means for the Warriors roster it is important to acknowledge that for most of the clubs history the recruitment has been limited to talented youngsters, Australian journeymen, players from Super League and the odd ex-All Black in the early years. It is amazing that we are even discussing whether it is a good use of resource to invest in four world-class players in the spine, it is a debate most Warriors fans never thought they would have. Regardless of your thoughts on Foran, I think we can all agree that the ability to attract star signings is a welcome improvement.
While it is risky to put so much of our cap in the spine, we are the club that once cheated the cap to sign two marquee props. If we are going to err on one side I would rather recruit match-winning players in the spine.
New Warriors coach Stephen Keaney has spent years as an assistant under Bellamy at the Melbourne storm. The game plan at the Storm was very clear (in the years where they didn’t flaunt the cap), invest heavily in Smith, Cronk and Slater and develop a forward pack that can let these three control the game. One can only hope that Kearney was taking notes.
I do feel that the Warriors are slightly light on front row forwards but this is where Kearney’s coaching and man management must come to the fore. He needs consistency from Lilyman and Matulino (once fit) and development from Vete. If these three can fire it naturally puts pressure on Gubb, Gavet, Lisone and Sipley to perform, or spend a lot of time in reserve grade. If Kata and Fusitua can inject themselves at the right time to ease the pressure, then we should be able to get enough parity to give the rock stars in the spine a hance to shine.
If Foran has a good year it is unlikely that we will be able to re-sign him, due to cap pressure and his desire to be closer to family in Sydney. Some have suggested if we only get him for a year and don’t win a premiership then it was a waste of time, I don’t buy into that line of thinking. Foran is a competitive player and can help establish the hard-nosed culture that has been lacking at the club. He will also be a good mentor for Ata Hingano who is destined to take the 6 jersey once Foran goes. I think Foran will come back with a point to prove and many will be surprised at the difference he makes to the team.
I still don’t see the Warriors as a top four team this year, but I can see a return to finals footy finishing somewhere towards the bottom of the 8. After 6 years with no finals footy, making the playoffs would be a good start to the Kearney era.