The Warriors (probably) hold the NRL record for getting their hearts broken by their former players, with James Maloney’s golden point field goal the most recent incident. Jamie Wall recounts the most traumatic ex-Warrior revenge missions.
As far as losses go, the Warriors’ latest to the Sharks would have been relatively easy to take, had it not been for one key feature: the fact that yet again, a former club stalwart performed the heart-wrenching execution. It’s not shameful to go down in golden-point extra time to a field goal from the league-leading team. However, watching a former Warrior kick the goal is a bit like being shot by the man you raised as your son while you’re on the toilet.
To make matters worse, kicker James Maloney wasn’t even the only recent ex-Warrior delighted with the result. Chad ‘Butthead’ Townsend and Jason Bukuya would’ve been singing the Sharks’ victory song down the hallway from their old team.
But these three aren’t alone in tormenting the Warriors team and fanbase. These are some of the most painful ex-player revenge attacks in the club’s 20-year existence.
Stephen Kearney’s Brutal Post-Breakup Success
The 1996 player of the year and future Kiwi coach moved to the fledgling Melbourne Storm in 1999. As well as winning a premiership in his first season with them, he also helped hand out a 56-10 flogging to the Warriors in 2000.
Nigel Vagana’s Rock-Themed Payback
After 70 games and 37 tries for the Warriors, Vagana signed with the Bulldogs in 2001. He scored the winning try against them in Wellington the next year, rubbing it in by using The Rock’s ‘One On One With The Great One’ taunt as a try celebration.
The Pitiless Reprisals of Joe Galuvao
After spending 1998-2000 at Mt Smart, the future Hair Bear then joined a Panthers team that knocked the Warriors out of the playoffs in 2003. Just to rub it in, he was part of Manly’s 2011 side that beat the Warriors in the grand final, too.
Ivan Cleary’s Revenge Beating
May 18, 2013: a date that will live in infamy for the Warriors. The club’s biggest loss, a 62-6 embarrassment, came at the hands of a Penrith side guided by the Warriors’ former fullback and head coach.
The Terrible Toll of Matthew Ridge
This one didn’t even have to do with anything on the field. Ridge walked away from the Auckland Warriors in 2000. Paying out of his contract contributed to a massive financial crisis. Eventually it led to the dissolution and rebranding of the team as the New Zealand Warriors.
If the glut of ex-Warriors in the Sharks loss wasn’t high enough, another defeat this weekend could surpass it for potential ‘ones that got away’ lament. The Warriors welcome the Gold Coast Titans to Mt Smart, who can count Nathan Friend, Siliva Havili and Agnatius Passi in their ranks. Oh yeah, maybe even this guy too, who is probably carrying a sizeable chip on his more than sizeable shoulders.