Warriors Heritage Round.

Scattered through the history of every Telstra Premiership club are tales of hardship and survival.

In a game which prides itself on working class roots those stories are badges of honour; just look at the role it played in the narrative of South Sydney's premiership victory last season.

While the Warriors have existed for only 20 years, more than 80 less than a couple of the other teams who will line up in the NRL's Heritage Round this weekend, they have managed to compile a list of ups and downs long enough to rival most.

The club's former financial controller, Brian Mills, was there from the very start, when a spot in the then named Winfield Cup was just a pipe dream.

He remained there until 2001, through some the club's most tumultuous times.

"I think the really terrible thing that happened in the early days was Super League; we were flying high in 1995 and the war really threw us back for the next three to four years," Mills told NRL.com.

"I think the first year we sold 15,000 season tickets, and the second year when the war was on we got up to about 13,000 and then all that happened. 

"In the end we sold about 11,000 because people cancelled. At that period of time there was a lot of stress on the club.

"Super League put a lot of money into the idea, but I don’t think the Warriors did very well."

The club has long been viewed as an unstable one in many senses, with a high turnover of coaches and an inconsistent ability to qualify for the finals, but Mills believes the Warriors are a far more settled place these days.

"To get that recipe with all the components completely right is never going to happen in any case. Even the Broncos have sacked a coach or two and had bad years," Mills said.

"You have good years and bad years, but the big difference I have noticed in recent years is that the Warriors are about the football and not the people behind it.

"The last two chief executives - Wayne Scurrah and Jim Doyle - are different in a sense they know it's not about them, it's about the club.

"I think they have got that right now, it's all about the players.

"I think the club is very settled these days."

 

Captain Simon Mannering mirrored those thoughts, comparing the difference in environment from when he debuted in 2005 to today, when the club is performing well on and off the field.

"There were a few changes just before I came with new coaches and things," Mannering said.

"Being a young guy I didn’t know any different.

"Hopefully now it’s going well and we can build some off-field stability which translates onto it.

"Anytime you get stability off the field it generally shows on it. I think Jim Doyle coming in has helped and Andrew McFadden having had a full year as coach."

The Warriors meet the Roosters this Sunday, who have the honour of being the only club to play in every round of the competition since its inception in 1908.

The two teams have some history between them as well, with the Warriors' first ever grand final appearance being against the Tricolours back in 2002.