Kiwi rugby league great Dean Bell has a sobering message for the Warriors ahead of their NRL playing return – goodwill means nothing in the brutal business of winning rugby league games.
Captain of the Warriors in their inaugural season 25 years ago, Bell earned a reputation as a hard-nosed operator, and he has only a sliver of sympathy for the team’s nomadic plight this season.
While the staff and players have been praised for the sacrifice of basing themselves in Australia as the season gets back underway, Bell believes it was something they simply needed to do to honour their contracts and be paid.
Unimpressed by the Warriors’ losses to Newcastle and Canberra in March before COVID-19 forced the competition shutdown, Bell hopes coach Stephen Kearney has used the subsequent 10 weeks wisely heading into Saturday’s round-three clash with St George Illawarra.
“The first two games they looked like reserve graders in a lot of ways,” Bell told AAP.
“Nobody would wish the pandemic on anybody but in saying that it was probably a good thing for them so they could reset.
“They might have got a little bit of sympathy in the lead up to the competition but I tell you, the Dragons aren’t going to show them any sympathy.
“Australia’s a pretty tough people. What matters to them, and what should matter to the Warriors now, is how they perform.”
Bell said the Warriors players should embrace the positives of their situation.
The trans-Tasman travel grind is no longer a factor, while the prospect of enforced time together had the 58-year-old recalling how Kiwi teams he toured with would get tighter as weeks wore on.
“Coming over was always a no-brainer,” he said. “They needed to be paid so I don’t think there was any question of them not doing it.”