Pride the common theme after Warriors win
At the end of a week where the Warriors suffered their equal-third biggest defeat in club history and axed six players to reserve grade, captain Ryan Hoffman spoke of his pride at seeing his side rally to beat the Dragons on Sunday.
The 42-0 loss to the Storm on Anzac Day was one of the ugliest performances the club had ever produced, and things only got worse when they landed back in Auckland this week, hitting the headlines after six players were banished to reserve grade for failing to meet team standards in the aftermath of the loss.
But on Sunday in front of 12,752 fans at Mt Smart Stadium, the Kiwi club – who were missing more than 1000 NRL games worth of experience because of injured or dropped players – lifted to get past the Dragons 26-10 and register their fourth victory of the year.
"Pride more than anything. Just pride in our team with the way we responded," Hoffman said when asked how he felt following the victory.
"Yes it's been a tough week, as a club we drew a line in the sand [in terms of] the values and what it means to be a Warriors player, and I am very proud to see the performance.
"I was also proud to see the blokes [who were dropped] playing reserve grade did very well as well."
It was a timely result for a number of reasons.
A loss in Round 9 after dropping five players who were originally named to play would have piled even more pressure onto the already under-fire coach Andrew McFadden, while a win heading into a week off for the Representative Round is sure improve morale at the club as well.
Forward Sione Lousi – who played his 50th NRL Telstra Premiership match on Sunday after being called up from reserve grade – said it was among the hardest weeks he has encountered in his six years as a first-grade player at the club.
"Obviously I have been here a while now and it is probably one of the toughest things we have been through. But the players responded well, the club responded well," Lousi told NRL.com.
"The boys who were dropped are probably gutted, but we support them, we are one team and we always have their backs.
"No-one is perfect and everyone is going to make mistakes in their lives. All we can do is support them and get behind them and move on."
The win lifts the Warriors to 10th on the ladder and they now sit outside the top eight only on points differential.
But McFadden stopped short of suggesting his side had turned a corner just yet in season 2016.
"We will find out [if this is a new chapter for the club], we need to use this as a springboard for something bigger. We have drawn a line in the sand, and we need to back this up and we haven't done that so far," McFadden said.
"Certainly as a group we need to make sure we build some resolve out of this."
Both Manu Vatuvei and Albert Vete starred for the Warriors in the Intrust Super Premiership, scoring a double and a try respectively as they beat the Bulldogs 42-12.