Opinion: Why you can't rule out the Warriors for the NRL title

Opinion 02/09/2018
Photo: Photosport.

By Andrew Gourdie, RadioLIVE sport host.

OPINION: Someone suggested to me earlier this week that this season has been a missed opportunity for the Warriors. 

They felt that after five straight wins to start the campaign, they had blown the best opportunity they might ever get to claim the NRL minor premiership and go on with the job. 

I'd argue that if 2018 has taught us anything, it's this - the minor premiership is no guarantee of finals success and the Warriors can still do plenty of damage in the playoffs. 

At the time of writing, the Warriors - yes, the Warriors - are carrying the best form of any top-eight team into the finals series. With four wins (Raiders, Panthers, Knights, Dragons) and a loss (a late, one-point defeat to the Bulldogs) from their last five games, they have momentum.

In terms of results, they were a conversion (in Sydney) away from finishing the regular season as they started.

Sure, they were scrappy and even a bit lucky against the Raiders on Friday, but the fact is they got the job done. There are more than a few of their playoff rivals who haven't been able to do that in recent weeks. 

Whatever happens in today's remaining games of the round for the Sharks away to the Bulldogs and the Broncos at home against the Sea Eagles, the Warriors will finish just two points off top spot.

Two points.

Indeed, it's possible that just two points will separate the top eight teams in the NRL, heading into the finals. It's tight at the top. 

And that means anyone can beat anyone. Only one team in the playoffs has truly had the wood on the Warriors this season and that's the Storm.

But the Warriors may not have to worry about their nemeses, if another team in the eight can deal to the Storm, just as the Panthers did on Friday night. Or the Sharks a few weeks back.

Or the Rabbitohs the week before. Actually, the Storm aren't looking that good at all. 

One thing is certain though, the Warriors will have to do it the hard way, away from home.

The good news? They've won more away games in 2018 than they have at home.

The travel should hold no fear. Among their eight wins away from home this season, their victims include the Rabbitohs, Roosters, Broncos and Dragons - four of their seven finals rivals. 

Aside from Blake Green, who must be nearing a return, the Warriors' key players are fit and firing.

David Fusitu'a is a sure thing on the right wing as the competition's leading try scorer, Tohu Harris has made a huge difference since his return from injury, and the spine of Issac Luke, Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck have a decent run of games under their belt, heading into the finals. 

I'm not saying the Warriors are favourites for the title, but they have shown some good signs at the business end of the season.

Don't write them off just yet, folks. 

Andrew Gourdie is Newshub sports presenter and RadioLIVE Sunday Sport host.