Rule changes won't hurt Warriors
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has extinguished any thought that his side will be disadvantaged through the early rounds by new ruck interpretations aimed at speeding the game up.
Simple geography means the Warriors can't benefit from regular meetings and discussions with the NRL referees like Sydney-based clubs can, creating a potential issue given the New Zealanders' pre-season struggles with the new interpretations.
In hit-outs against the Panthers and an inter-squad match between the NRL and NSW Cup sides the Warriors were pinged on several occasions for ruck infringements, but according to McFadden it won't be a concern in Saturday night's game against Newcastle.
"I think every team had issues in the trials, the feedback we got from the referees was that pretty much every trial had 20-plus penalties in it. How that pans out in the early rounds we will find out this weekend," McFadden said.
"I don't really know how that is going to play out; all I know is that we will be prepared for it and that there will be a lot of penalties blown.
"We have made a few adjustments in our technique, but again I think there will be a feeling out period for all teams.
"We got the referees over at multiple stages over the off-season and I have been in contact with [NRL referees boss] Tony Archer regularly, so we are just as prepared as any other team."
Assistant coach Andrew Webster, who spent the last few seasons as coach of the Eels and Wests Tigers Holden Cup sides, said a recent week-long visit from referee Gavin Reynolds had provided valuable feedback for the squad.
"NRL clubs in Australia get access to referees probably at least once a week, but being isolated in New Zealand we probably don't get that exposure," Webster said.
"They [the players] adjusted well; in the ruck is what we wanted to clean up.
"I am happy as long as it's consistent. It sounds like a boring response but the thing for me is that if the game is going to be fast then it's going to be fast, if it's like that every week then fine."
Prop Jacob Lillyman added that the new interpretation would affect more than just the penalty count, with a higher physical toll on players involved in group tackles trying to get out of the way quicker.
"I only played the in-house trial and I know the coaches wanted to speed that one up, so we definitely noticed it there," the former Queensland Origin rep said.
"But you never know until you get there. It will probably speed up a bit and there will be a few penalties but you just have to be prepared to ride that out.
"From what they are saying about speeding it up a bit… to do that they are going to have to blow a few penalties; we can't lose our head over that and we have to be prepared to defend back-to-back sets and see how it goes."
Last year the Warriors conceded an average of six penalties per game, with busy defender Nathan Friend the worst individual culprit with 16 across the season.
Video courtesy Warriors.co.nz