Warriors’ ready for round one battle

Warriors’ ready for round one battle

The Warriors are feeling confident ahead of the much-awaited start to the 2022 NRL season this weekend, with a settled and productive preseason behind them and players competing hard for positions.

Head Coach Nathan Brown and this weekend’s captain Addin Fonua-Blake shared their thoughts during a media conference this morning in the lead-up to the side’s round one clash with the St George Illawarra Dragons at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday.

Fonua-Blake says he is excited personally, and for newcomers to the club, that the season is almost here and says they are keen to get off to a strong start.

“It’s really important. We definitely want to win this game. This game’s what we’ve been working hard for all preseason. This has been the light at the end of the tunnel for us … putting in all the hard yards to come up and be ready for the Dragons,” he says.

And he’s comfortable standing in for injured captain Tohu Harris, after also filling the role late last year.

“I do feel pretty comfortable. I’ve got Shaun Johnson there, he’s very experienced and Marcelo Montoya and they’re really good leaders of the team. It’s not like I’m out there all by myself trying to do that job by myself,” he explains.

“There’s a good core of players around me that are leaders and this preseason a lot of the boys have been working on finding their voice, so it’s a lot easier for me to fill in and do that role until Tohu comes back.

“We’re going into every game full of confidence and backing ourselves. Last year, we had a stop-start start to the year. We want to get on in round one and hit the ground running and really show this comp what we can do.

“I’m eager to just get out there, get the ball in my hands, run as hard as I can and work hard for our boys.”

Fonua-Blake says having a settled and uninterrupted preseason has positioned the squad well for success.

“We’ve been ripping in from the start. I feel like everyone’s finally starting to realise you can’t just show up on the day, you have to train hard,” he says.

“Everyone’s really keen just to get out there and put their best foot forward. That trial didn’t give a lot of players the chance to get some time under their belt and showcase what they can do but we’re going out there with our best 17 this weekend.

“We have a lot of competition for spots this year that’s also keeping the training competition good as well.

“There’s been a lot of high-quality training. When people are hungry for spots, it gives the coaches some headaches which is good. You don’t want a team that just comes in and the top 17 is solidified for the whole year.

“You want to be pushing each other every day at training. I’ve definitely felt the pick-up in intensity in competition at training (compared to) what it was last year. Our club’s only going to be better for it.”

Growth in preseason

Head Coach Nathan Brown says the whole squad has grown as a result of a stable preseason.

“We feel optimistic on the back of a good preseason and we’re optimistic in the hope that the players that have been introduced to the club in the last 18 months to two years have got some great growth in the preseason,” Brown says.

“We’ve got some good reasons to be positive, good reasons to be hopeful like every side that missed the eight last year has. The proof comes in what happens when you run out on the field.”

Brown says only having one trial game before round one meant some younger players had not had the opportunity to force their way into the squad, but he feels he has selected the strongest team based on what he’s seen so far.

So, is this the side that can make the eight?

“We’re hopeful and the eight has got to be a target. We got some great learnings last year and some things if we had our time again as staff we’d certainly do differently. We feel as a group, we’ve come together but certainly improved in some areas, not only as a playing group but as a whole staff – from high performance to coaching,” he says.

“The players have prepared themselves well and they’ve made some really good sacrifices – a lot of players whose diets have changed a lot. We feel like the work’s been done. The exciting part for us is the growth we get out of our younger players.”

GAME DETAILS

Read more about the game here

Vodafone Warriors V St George Illawarra Dragons

Sunshine Coast Stadium, Bokarina

Saturday, March 12, 4.30pm

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