Warriors star Shaun Johnson admits he and his teammates have left coach Andrew McFadden in a precarious position after failing to secure an NRL finals spot.
The Auckland-based outfit lost their final four matches of the season to miss the top eight for a fifth consecutive season, of which McFadden has coached three.
They concluded their 2016 campaign with a limp 40-18 defeat to Parramatta in Auckland on Sunday, gifting the Eels numerous tries through careless mistakes.
The failure to secure a top eight berth turns the heat up on McFadden, who was expected to deliver finals football this year.
But Johnson, 25, said the responsibility for the late-season collapse rested firmly on the squad’s shoulders.
Schoolboy errors, defensive lapses and carelessness could not be put down to coaching deficiencies.
“There’s not much you can say,” Johnson said on Sunday.
“We let him down again and let ourselves down again.
“We’ve put him in a very vulnerable position.”
Johnson said it was particularly galling to crash out given the individual quality within the squad.
The team would now have to dwell on their failures over a long off-season.
“It’s basic fundamentals which we don’t place enough importance on at the moment, it’s hurting us,” the halfback said.
“You can’t not pull someone up on some of the stuff we’re doing.”
Thomas Leuluai, who played his last game for the club on Sunday before heading to the Super League, agreed with his halves partner.
The NRL was too difficult to throw away points and still expect victory.
“Too many tries handed to them on a plate and then we bombed three of ours, we can’t do that in this competition,” the 31-year-old Leuluai said.
Leuluai said the failure to achieve finals football in 2016 ranked as the most painful in his time at the club given the squad’s potential.
His teammates were ruing their missed opportunity as well.
“If we played our best football and got beaten, so be it – but we didn’t do that,” Leuluai said.