Michael Ennis says the decision to let Matt Lodge walk away from the Warriors is showing on the footy field while Benji Marshall believes the defeatist language coming from Nathan Brown could be filtering through the struggling club.
Off the back of their “worst 40 minutes of the season”, the Warriors were hammered 44-12 by a Sea Eagles side missing their two greatest attacking threats Daly Cherry-Evans (Origin) and Tom Trbojevic (injury).
In his post-match press conference, Warriors coach Nathan Brown was “hammered” by journalists and denied he was out of ideas.
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Former premiership-winner Braith Anasta said Brown was under massive pressure before throwing to the Fox NRL panel.
“Lost for a lot of answers I would think,” Anasta said following the press conference, where at an ease Brown fended off a barrage of questions.
“They’ve (the Warriors) got quite a strong roster; no Tom, no DCE, he said it was their worst 40 minutes of the season that first 40 minutes.
“Nathan Brown’s one of the great guys in the game, he has been for a long time, but he’s got to be under the pump here, he’s got to be under huge pressure, doesn’t he, that’s the reality of it, isn’t it?”
Former hooker turned coach and pundit Michael Ennis agreed, but said the decision to let Lodge go because of a “two alpha males” pub fight was telling and had left them toothless.
“They’re not playing well, they’re not playing well at all,” Ennis said.
“Their performance against South Sydney at Magic Round was highly underwhelming. They were towelled up in that first half and again tonight, I don’t know how many times I can say it, Nathan said it for me, they were terrible, they were really terrible and key players not playing well.
“Now the Warriors have made a huge decision, a huge decision, a fortnight ago to let Matt Lodge leave mid-season…
“Now when Addin Fonua-Blake got hurt and Matt Lodge was allowed to leave the club, they totally eroded themselves from having a side that oppositions feared, and tonight you could see it.
“Not at one point were Manly’s forward pack in fear in the opening 15-20 minutes. They completely out-muscled them, out-enthused them and physically dominated them and when they moved the ball to the edges guys like (Haumole) Olakau’atu were uncontainable. They could not handle them.”
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Ennis continued by saying New Zealand international Shaun Johnson’s return hadn’t helped them on the field yet, and added that fullback Reece Walsh had struggled on the field alongside the halfback.
“Shaun Johnson has come back to improve them. I’m not sure he’s playing any better than Kodi Nikorima was last year,” Ennis said.
“I’m not sure he’s brought anything different and, in doing so, it’s affected Reece Walsh.
“Reece Walsh is not having the impact that he was having last year because he was owning the big moments. I go back to the game at Gosford last year where Reece Walsh had complete control and freedom to play however he wanted and he carved up the Tigers, completely took them to school. They’re miles off the Warriors.”
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Meanwhile, Marshall said Brown’s talk worried him.
“One of the things I took away that I was quite puzzled about is that he said sometimes we go into games thinking we can’t win but we want to compete,” Marshall said.
“I know it wasn’t that long ago that I played, but I went into every game that I could at least win the game or try to win the game, not just trying to compete.
“If that sort of thing is filtering through the side, well, that’s not a good thing.
“He’s definitely under pressure, five losses in a row, they’re not in a good spot on the table.”
Ennis added: “They’re the worst defence in the competition and they’ve lost nine of their opening 13 rounds, that’s the cold hard facts of it.
“They’re not responding Braith, they’re not responding.”
The Warriors have a difficult fortnight ahead of them as they take on the Sharks and Panthers.
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