A return to an entertaining, offload-laden style has been key in the Warriors’ revival under Todd Payten, according to an online NRL analyst.
Following the sacking of Stephen Kearney in June after the team’s fourth loss in six games, Payten has led the side to a 5-6 record and an unlikely run for a finals berth.
That run included hard-fought defeats to the table-topping Panthers and last week against the Eels.
Under Payten, the team has scored nearly 50 per cent more points per game, with Payten’s side scoring an average of 18.4 per game compared with 12.2 under the former Kiwis coach, according to Rugby League Eye Test.
That change comes despite Payten’s teams having slightly less possession compared with Kearney’s, on average.
There has been a drastic change in offloading under Payten, which was traditionally a feature of successful Warriors sides.
The Warriors’ offloading has gone up from an average of 11.6 per game to 6.7 under the more circumspect Kearney, a 70 per cent increase. There was a triple digit increase in effective offloads, according to the NRL analysis page.
The increase under Payten means the Warriors are second in the NRL for total offloads and average offloads per game, behind the Eels. The Warriors’ passing in general play was also up 17 per cent.
The team averaged 168 runs a game under both Kearney and Payten, with an increase in run metres and post contact metres under the interim coach, according to Rugby League Eye Test.
Payten, who will leave the club at the end of the season to take charge of the Cowboys, has spoken recently about encouraging the Warriors to play with more freedom.
“I’m very mindful about not whacking the players with a big stick and being really demanding about our focus,” he said in the build-up to the Eels game.
“We have a group of players who enjoy being relaxed and having that freedom in the way we play so I’m really mindful about what message I give them and how I give it so we can play with that freedom.”
That freedom has not come at a cost defensively, with total run metres conceded by Payten’s down 6.7 per cent compared with under Kearney.
Similarly, post contact metres by opponents are down nine per cent and opposition offloads have dropped 8.4 per cent. Penalties are also down 15 per cent.