Warriors fans watching their InTrust Super Premiership team dip out of the finals via a 22-18 loss to the Newtown Jets would have been equal parts impressed with the display of winger Henare Wells, and astonished he wasn’t given an NRL opportunity in 2016.
Injuries, suspensions and abhorrent form resulted in almost weekly backline changes for Andrew McFadden’s underachieving first-grade outfit this season. Incredibly, the same players wore jerseys 1 to 5 two weeks in a row on just five occasions…and three weeks in a row zero times.
Fans were exasperated by the continued selection of Blake Ayshford, regular recalls for the similarly bumbling Jonathan Wright, the axing of Konrad Hurrell, and the Tuimoala Lolohea’s line-up musical chairs, while Manu Vatuvei and Ken Maumalo were persisted with despite frequent ball-handling and defensive issues.
Which begs the question, why versatile speedster Wells hasn’t been deemed good enough to get a call-up? Born in Taumarunui in the central North Island before moving to Sydney as a youngster, Wells came through the Sydney Roosters’ junior system before spending 2014-15 with Burleigh Bears.
Famously scoring six tries in an InTrust Super Cup match for the Bears against Sunshine Coast, he was snapped up by the Warriors this season and has been a star of Stacey Jones’ reserve-grade side – culminating in a scintillating performance on Sunday night.
Wells latched onto a Mason Lino kick to finish off a spectacular team try that levelled the scores late in the first half.
An ex-Jets star from his time with the Roosters, Wells combined with Lino again to burn his former team in an audacious scrum play as the Warriors sought to carve into an 14-point deficit with 12 minutes left.
The 23-year-old switched to fullback in the latter stages – as he has done regularly this season – and set up a grandstand finish after storming onto an offload and burning off the Jets’ defence, then finding usual custodian Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad ranging up on the flank.
If the Warriors are serious about solving their woes out wide in 2017 they should move swiftly to re-sign the lean flyer, before yet another quality players slips through their fingers and plays finals footy for another club while they sit on the outside of the playoffs looking in.