Former head coach Frank Endacott says Warriors problems start with underwhelming forward pack
The Warriors are staring down the barrel of yet another playoff-less NRL season, and former coach Frank Endacott believes a fair portion of that blame lies with a perennially under-performing forward pack throughout what he deems a "five out of 10" season.
Plenty of blame has been directed at the highly-vaunted spine of Shaun Johnson, Kieran Foran, Issac Luke, and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck who have generally failed to live up to their lofty expectations.
However Endacott was of the opinion that, while they have been underwhelming, their lack of sting can be attributed in large part to the minimal momentum provided by their teammates up front.
"I think the forwards have been pretty average this year, to be honest," he told Newshub.
"The likes of the halves and the fullback can't play off the back of a forward pack that's going backwards.
"They have to have a good hard look at themselves, lay that platform so the halves can play off it. But it hasn't happened much this year."
Endacott, head coach of the Auckland-based franchise for the 1997 and 1998 seasons, said Shaun Johnson's latest injury was the death knell for any hope of a first top eight finish since 2011, and that much of the criticism aimed at the playmaker was unwarranted.
"I know he cops a lot of flak but when you look at it, he's the player who creates all the tries," he said of Johnson, who's set to miss the next 6-8 weeks with a PCL rupture.
"I don’t know what the percentage rate is but it would be very high, and if he's not scoring them, he's making them."
"He's the biggest asset in the side whether people believe it or not. They're going to miss him greatly."
Johnson's colleague in the halves, marquee signing Kieran Foran, is one player the former Kiwis coach thinks hasn't been up to par of late as he eyes a return to Sydney in 2018 with the Bulldogs.
With their campaign essentially over, now is the time to perhaps look to develop some of their younger talent, he adds.
"If you look at recent weeks Foran hasn't played that great, and I think he's already thinking about Bulldogs.
"Maybe the time's now to start looking at a couple of players for the future, regardless of the results."
One such player Endacott believes has the ability to step in and shine given the opportunity is Ata Hingano, who'll start from the interchange bench this weekend against the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.
"I do rate him, and I have from the time I first saw him.
"I think he's a player of the future without any doubt, he's talented, he's got a good attitude and plenty of clubs are interested in him so I hope he stays at the Warriors."