Our attitude needs to change: Warriors
They have traditionally been an attacking NRL powerhouse, but new Warriors coach Stephen Kearney says his focus is on reworking his side's defensive structures ahead of his first season in charge at Mt Smart Stadium.
Having previously spent time as an assistant coach under Craig Bellamy and more recently Wayne Bennett, with a stint as head coach at Parramatta in between, Kearney has been exposed to more than his fair share of successful club cultures.
Kearney confirmed both he and the man he replaced, assistant coach Andrew McFadden, will focus on the side's defence, leaving fellow assistants Steve McNamara and Stacey Jones to look after the attack. The former Kiwis mentor – who in September ended his eight-year stint in the national team role – is confident his side needs to change their mindset before they can become a premiership contender.
"For me it's about having a certain standard and behaviours that go with that and making sure that we're all striving to achieve that standard every time," Kearney told the assembled media at the club's Auckland training base.
"That's where you get consistency.
"I've come in here and demanded it – if there's another word for it – from the experience that I've had, that's what I think works and makes a good football club.
"The guys I must say have been really receptive. I think we all want the best for the football club. They're all keen to want that to happen."
Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman echoed his coach's sentiments, saying the playing group as a whole needed to "enjoy being uncomfortable".
"There's been a few trends with the Warriors over the past couple of years and they aren't good trends. It's something we need to break," Hoffman said.
"It's an attitude adjustment. It's not individuals, it's the team as a whole. As a group and as a team we need to change the way we handle adversity. That's been a real focus this pre-season."
When quizzed about the potential for conflict with McFadden – who held the head coach position from mid-2014 to the end of the 2016 season – Kearney's response was frank: "I'm happy with it, he's happy with it, it's perfect."
Hoffman said the new coaching structure was set to have further benefits, with the club having had four different head coaches (both permanent and interim) since 2012.
"The club's gone through some times where they've had mass changes throughout and just wiped the slate clean and started again and it hasn't worked," Hoffman said.
"Having this bit of continuity with 'Cappy' (McFadden) but also having the new ideas from 'Mooks' (Kearney) and 'Macca' (McNamara), I think it's putting us in good stead.
"They don't have egos that will get in the way of the bigger picture. They both want the same thing, they want a successful Warriors."
After missing the majority of 2016 through injury, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is likely to be fit for Round 1 as Kearney confirmed the livewire fullback back in training with the main group.
"He's pretty much getting back to full training with us, apart from a lot of the contact work. By Christmas he'll be further along. The medical team are happy with where he's at, that's a real positive for us," Kearney said.
Kearney also reiterated Kieran Foran has continued his rehabilitation from injury at the club, and that the process of registering his contract with the NRL is ongoing.