22 Feb 2024

The Warriors out to improve on stunning 2023

6:47 am on 22 February 2024
Marcelo Montoya (C) of the Warriors celebrates a try against the Redcliffe Dolphins.

The Warriors play their final pre season match against the Dolphins in Auckland this weekend. Photo: Photosport

The Warriors are not looking to recapture the magic of last year, but instead want to go even further in 2024.

It was a stellar season for the Warriors who fell agonisingly short of a third NRL grand final appearance.

With the bulk of the squad returning to Mount Smart, plenty of punters are picking more success this season.

Coach Andrew Webster said they were certainly not resting on their laurels.

"We're not trying to recapture anything, we are just trying to be ourselves. It's a new year and if we keep trying to think about how good we were last year, this year won't happen."

After going down 42-12 to the Broncos in the preliminary final, Webster said they were setting their sights even higher.

"At the end of the day, we actually want to be better than last year so we can create whatever we want. It's in our hands."

Utility back Dylan Walker said Webster and his coaching staff have kept the Warriors "honest and grounded."

"We haven't really spoken about last year or how can we get to that point again, or the external pressure. We've just spoken about the details we need to get right."

Dylan Walker of the Warriors (L) with coach Andrew Webster (R) during the NRL Semi Final match between the New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knight

Photo: Fiona Goodall

Walker had one word to describe his side's 18-16 pre-season loss to the West Tigers at the weekend.

"Resilient. Considering we only had 12 men for the majority of the game. It was a bit scrappy, a bit loose, so lots of things we can work on."

Walker said the Warriors have hit the ground running.

"Everyone has come back stronger and just because we've had so much time together over the last 18 months we are not wasting time on certain drills, we are just straight into football, which is going to help us massively."

After being given the captain's armband for last year's final round game against the Dolphins, Walker is a clear leader in the squad but has maintained his approach to football.

"I still like having a joke. I think there's all types of different leaders and leadership and you know, I'm one that just comes in more enthused and hope that can rub off on some younger guys."

Competition within the squad is fierce, leaving Webster the tough task of finding his best 17 for round one against the Sharks.

"I've got a real clear indication right now about eight or nine guys but the rest I'm not 100 percent sure and I am really open minded to see this performance this weekend."

Webster said the fight for starting spots was bringing out the best in his players.

"They're competing hard. I think it's coming from the youth in the team and then our experienced players are on their tail so that's brought out the best in them."

The Warriors final pre-season hitout against the Dolphins at Go Media Stadium kicks off at 5.45pm on Saturday evening.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.