Warriors aim to dodge slow start
It has been seven long seasons since the New Zealand Warriors tasted victory in Round 1, and their reputation as the competition's slowest starters is one they are desperate to shake this Sunday.
Since 2010 the club has lost every one of their NRL Telstra Premiership season-openers, with a victory over Parramatta in 2009 doubling as their most recent first-round win and the last time they started a season at Mount Smart Stadium.
With back-to-back home games against the Knights and Storm to open the 2017 campaign, plus an 'away' clash against the Bulldogs in Dunedin in Round 3, the Warriors have no excuses for being slow out of the gates this time around, and prop Jacob Lillyman said his team are fully aware of it.
"It's no secret we are slow starters, but we are certainly looking to change that this year and what better way to do it than in front of our home fans on Sunday afternoon," Lillyman said ahead of the clash against the Newcastle Knights.
"The preparation [has been good], we have really upped the ante leading into the trials and kept that going.
"[We have been] training at a really high intensity and I think that is paying off.
"The proof will be in the pudding, but we are very confident."
Across those seven years without a first-up win the club has had a 12-point average losing margin in Round 1 fixtures, while through that same period this week's opponents, Newcastle, have tended to start seasons on a better note, with four Round 1 wins since 2009.
A look deeper at the history books reveals the Warriors have won only six of a possible 22 opening-round clashes across their history.
Five of those victories have come in Auckland, with their sole win on the road coming against the Roosters in 1999.
Hooker Issac Luke said the playing group were excited to open the season at Mt Smart Stadium, with many of them yet to start a campaign on home soil in their career.
"I think the opportunity to have Round 1 here [is exciting], hopefully we can get a good turn out from the fans and give them a good display," Luke said.
"We want to show them what we have been working really hard on all off-season."
The Warriors-Knights match kicks off at 4pm (NZT) and will see Newcastle searching for their first NRL win since April last year.