Ryan Hoffman of the Warriors.
Ryan Hoffman of the Warriors. DAVID ROWLAND

Has Ryan Hoffman solved the Warriors' conundrum?

RUGBY LEAGUE: Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Hoffman knows he is a very special young man.

And those who know him well would not be surprised that he spent part of the off-season in the US on a mission to make him a better player, and a better person.

At this own expense, Hoffman had two weeks in the States on what he termed a fact-finding mission.

Among those he met for special talks were staff at Ohio State University and two US Special Forces soldiers.

While he learned much and was treated unbelievably well by his hosts, Hoffman was exhilarated by his encounter with the Green Berets.

They gave him an insight into their mental toughness, mental strength and mental training.

So huge congratulations to the Warriors skipper, who revealed the personal development trip had long been on his bucket list.

But, unfortunately, he made one massive mistake. He didn't take the entire Warriors NRL squad with him.

If there's one team in the NRL that needs lessons in mental toughness, mental strength and mental training, it's the Warriors.

And if they ever managed to get that part of their game right, they would start red-hot favourites to win the NRL premiership every year, with every bookmaker.

Season after season, without doubt, the Warriors are the underachievers. And that has been the case since they joined the NRL in 1995.

While teams like the Broncos, Cowboys, Storm, Titans, Raiders and Knights have an entire city behind them, the Warriors have the backing of a country.

And while rugby league may play second fiddle to union in the Shaky Isles, it seems most young Pacific Islanders eventually find their way into the NRL through a start in New Zealand.

If NYC results are an indication, the Warriors have harnessed much of that talent. They have won three of the nine NYC premierships decided and have missed the finals just once.

But the question begs to be asked - what happens to these players? Why isn't that natural, brilliant talent harvested? And if it is, why doesn't it flow into the NRL side?

Each year young talent emerges from the Warriors ranks, but more often than not they vanish as quickly as they appeared.

Among those who looked like world-beaters but then had their careers stall somewhat are Glen Fisiiahi, Sione Lousi, Tui Lolohea, Albert Vete, Ngani Laumape and John Palavi, while the likes of Konrad Hurrell, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Suaia Matagi, Raymond Faitaila-Mariner, Silvia Havili, Elijah Taylor, Sosaia Feke and Nathaniel Peteru have moved on.

Conversely, recent recruitment by the Warriors cannot be criticised, starting with Hoffman.

And in the past two seasons they have assembled arguably the most potent spine in the NRL with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Issac Luke and now Kieran Foran joining the brilliant Shaun Johnson.

But why, after 21 years and with such exceptional resources, the Warriors have not yet won an NRL premiership, remains the conundrum.

Maybe - just maybe - Ryan Hoffman has returned from the US with the answer.



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