New Zealand Warriors Sharks defeat, Sharks send-off, Matt Lodge contract, Kodi Nikorima transfer, Euan Aitken, news, Warriors home games

The Warriors have held a series of soul-searching crisis meetings as they attempt to turn around a disastrous run of form that included a 60-point drubbing at the hands of the Storm and an embarrassing defeat to a 12-man Sharks team.

Nathan Brown’s side started the season positively, recording wins against the Cowboys and Broncos but things have taken a worrying turn.

Chief executive Cameron George, however, denied the club’s extended stay in Australia was to blame, declaring they wouldn’t use homesickness as an excuse.

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“It’s got nothing to do with not being at home, it’s just performance-based,” George said to the SMH.

“We’ve just got to get off our ass and get it right. I’m not going to dance around it. Staff know that, players know that and that’s the expectation. Get it right.

“There were certainly some frank and open discussions about that and that’s the mood going forward.

“We had reviews across the board, staff and players. We all know what the expectation is for the coming weeks, and that’s to perform and stop leaving ourselves open to more criticism and more challenges for our results and our season.”

The Warriors have another issue on their hands, with the club’s return to New Zealand looming.

As it stands the Warriors will return to Mt Smart on July 3, but the shift back to their base could reshape the playing roster, having already lost Kodi Nikorima with Euan Aitken signaling he wasn’t willing to make a permanent move across the Tasman.

Now, star prop Matt Lodge could soon follow their lead.

Lodge has a player option for the 2023 season and George admitted that the bustling big man “was looking more likely (to be) staying Sydney” for family reasons.

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As it stands Lodge’s tenure at the Warriors will end at the conclusion of the season, having knocked back the club’s three-year extension offer during pre-season.

“I couldn’t answer that one honestly. If I answered one way or the other I’d be throwing a dart, so I couldn’t give you a true indication,” coach Nathan Brown said when asked if Lodge would remain a Warrior.

“His football will provide opportunities for not only us but other clubs to be looking at him. I thought he was our best player last week and he’s certainly starting to get some real consistency about what he’s doing.

“If Lodgey keeps playing as is, he’ll sell himself somewhere.”

Lodge has heavy links to the Dolphins, having been signed by coach Wayne Bennett at the Broncos following a three-year hiatus.

Recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan is also his father-in-law.

The Warriors boss was confident no other players would remain in Australia, explaining no one else in the playing group has expressed that desire.

“Everyone’s going back to New Zealand. You don’t sign with a New Zealand club thinking you’ll be playing in Australia. We don’t sign players that way,” George said.

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