Warriors not up to NRL standard, Kiwis great Tawera Nikau says

Shaun Johnson (R) reacts after yet another Warriors loss in 2017 Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

The Warriors are held back by players who aren't up to NRL standard, according to New Zealand great Tawera Nikau.

The post-mortem on the Auckland-based club's dismal season has begun after ending the season on a nine-game losing streak and missing the finals for a sixth straight season. They finished 13th despite having an all-Test spine including Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke, guided by a well-credentialed coach in former NRL star Stephen Kearney.

Former Cronulla and Melbourne forward Nikau, who's a Kiwi selector under coach David Kidwell, points his finger at the Warriors' forwards.

"Too many Warriors players aren't up to first-grade standard and that's the major concern," Nikau told NZ's Radio Sport. "The achilles heel is the forward pack. There was no foundation for the spine and outside backs to perform off. They struggled all year to contain the middle of the ruck and lay the foundation."

The Warriors ranked ninth for metres run and 10th for linebreaks but 14th for offloads this season.

Nikau, who played 19 Tests, said Kearney needed to overhaul a culture of losing.

"There has to be some stability so Steve can get the players he wants," he said. "But it is really hard when you have a team that doesn't perform.

"How do you attract players to a club at the bottom of the table, with a culture of not knowing how to win, losing for the last 20 years?"

The Warriors lose five-eighth Foran, former skipper Ryan Hoffman and prop Ben Matulino for 2018, with Melbourne's Tohu Harris their only major recruit.