Trial embarrassment timely for Warriors
While the Warriors' 46-10 defeat to the Dragons in their final trial has many of the club's fans sweating up a storm, centre Blake Ayshford believes it was just what the doctor ordered.
The ugly loss in Nelson last weekend came despite the Warriors fielding a full-strength line up, raising plenty of questions about a side tipped to be among the Telstra Premiership's big improvers in 2016 thanks largely to the addition of Kiwi stars Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke to an already talented squad.
But Ayshford said the result was a timely reminder to remain grounded after a positive pre-season which saw them make the final of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines and beat the Titans in Whangarei a fortnight ago.
"We probably thought we were going better than we actually were, we had a couple of good signings and made the final of the Nines so we probably needed to get beaten," Ayshford told NRL.com.
"The Dragons game was our only real hit-out as a group, and having that probably helped us and showed a lot of things which will help us going forward in the season.
"If we had won that then we would have made the Nines final as well as winning the trial before, so the poor performance sort of came at a good time and I would rather it happen now than in Round 1."
It was the first time since 2011 that the Warriors have lost their final trial match, but history shows heading into the regular season off a win hasn't helped the Kiwi side make a good start to the year, having not won a Round 1 clash since 2009.
It is a stat which hasn’t been lost on the players and somewhat adds to Ayshford's theory.
"I was speaking to a couple of the boys here at the Warriors and they said they can't remember the last time they lost their last trial match, but then in the first round they go out and get beaten," Ayshford said.
"It happens to a lot of teams. It misguides you a bit and you think you are going better than you actually are.
"We will learn from that and have already started with some tough training and got a bit physical with each other as a result of the loss."
Coach Andrew McFadden echoed those thoughts, but was still disappointed with the manner in which the side went down, in particular the leaking of points late in the match.
"Obviously we can't accept those sorts of performances, but it's just a good reminder of what we need to focus on," McFadden said.
"We had one side (the Dragons) that were well up for it, and we probably treated it too much like a trial and need to be better prepared for that.
"But I know we can turn it around very quickly.
"With our pre-season so far and the Nines, maybe we just all thought it was just going to happen. It's probably not unexpected that we had a little blip there."
The Warriors travel away to Campbelltown Stadium to play the injury-hit Wests Tigers in Round 1.