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Hoodoo hunting: Warriors primed to end NRL’s worst losing run

By the time the ball is kicked off at Go Media Stadium on Saturday afternoon it will have been 3,261 days since the Warriors last beat the Storm, marking the longest active head-to-head losing streak in the NRL.  

Halfback Shaun Johnson is the lone Warrior who remains from that 2015 side which won 28-14 – a game best remembered for a remarkable feat of athleticism by hooker Nathan Friend – while the Kiwi side’s current captain Tohu Harris was also present on the day, albeit in a Melbourne jersey.

Fifteen encounters between the two clubs have followed since, all going the way of the Storm, which most recently included a miraculous comeback win in which they scored 12 points in the final two minutes.

To rub even more salt into the wound, the Warriors weren’t even the last team to beat Craig Bellamy’s men in Auckland, with that honour instead belonging to the Wests Tigers, who were 11-10 winners over Melbourne in a double-header played there back in 2018.

But with three-straight wins to their name, a squad that is almost back to full strength and the recent experience of having all but beaten the Storm in Melbourne, the Warriors are perhaps better placed than ever to finally end the drought.

“Someone gave me a history lesson around some other team this year [who we hadn’t beaten in a long time] and we beat them,” coach Andrew Webster said matter-of-factly. 

“We respect who we play every week, we know they [the Storm] are a great side.

“I thought we were very good against them last time, but that doesn’t guarantee we are going to be good again. We have got to go after it.”

Hooker Wayde Egan joked this week that footage of Xavier Coates’ gravity defying match-winner from Round 2 had been censored in New Zealand, admitting “I think it scarred a few boys”.

Coates with the best match winner you have ever seen

While the Warriors have endured lean periods against plenty of opponents in their 30-season history, including losing their first 11 games against the Broncos, nothing can match the block they have when it comes to the Storm.

Former Warriors winger Jonathan Wright, whose role in that 2015 victory was one of just two wins he enjoyed over the Storm in 10 attempts, said it's true that the mere sight of the Storm logo on the NRL draw has a negative psychological impact on some players.

"Teams psych themselves out before playing them. 100 percent," Wright says. 

"Some players will say 'oh it's nothing' but as I've learned more about the mind and how self-doubt works, if the belief isn't there then you're in trouble. 

If you're a young playing coming up against Melbourne, and you're thinking about them winning, then you've already lost before you've even turned up.

Jonathan Wright Former Warriors winger

"If you're a senior player then you're busy trying to motivate everyone else for it and get them in the right mindset. 

“Melbourne has this against a lot of clubs; no matter where I was playing, they were my bogey team. 

"If you've got a good record against Melbourne then you must be going pretty well."

Saturday's clash at Go Media Stadium will be the eighth-straight home game the Warriors have sold out in 2024, with their next Auckland clash against the Broncos on June 29 having already reached capacity as well. 

Stats supplied by David Middleton, League Information Services, author of the official annual of the NRL

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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