Johnson wants to bring back 'Warriors football'

It was the term that once made them one of the most entertaining sides to watch and halfback Shaun Johnson promises a return to "Warriors football" following a lacklustre 2017.

Several of the Warriors' stats last season point to them being a top-four, or at least a top-eight side, which they have not been since their 2011 grand final appearance.

In areas that would please any NRL coach, they finished last season with the highest overall completion rate at 79.7%, and the equal-fewest errors with 225 (9.4 per game) - ahead of even the ever-disciplined Melbourne Storm in both categories.

The Warriors averaged the fifth-most metres gained per set, at 43.2.

They managed to get Roger Tuivasa-Sheck involved regularly, with the star fullback touching the ball the eighth-most out of all fullbacks in good ball sets (188 touches, 7.8 per game).

And for those fans calling for Johnson to take the line on more, last season the Warriors pivots finished with the sixth-most runs from a halves pairing (445 runs, 18.5 per game).

However, these stats failed to result in a decent overall attack.

A far cry from the flair that used to be associated with the Auckland-based club, in 2017 the Warriors offered up the third-fewest offloads with 181 at 7.5 per game, eventually finishing 13th in points scored.

"Warriors football" had fallen by the wayside.

The talk out of the Warriors camp all pre-season has been about the side adopting a new, more expansive style of play.

Johnson acknowledged his side may have become bogged down by trying to play simple football, and promised change was coming.

"I think fans should expect a more expansive style. Last year I think we went a bit into our shells and focussed on completions more than playing a bit of that Warriors football," Johnson said.

"I can't tell you exactly what it's going to look like but as of right now we want to play what we see.

"When we first came in this year the brains trust [coaching staff] made it pretty clear that we would look to do things a little different this year so we just have to all buy into it."

Johnson's new halves partner Blake Green says Saturday's trial against the Gold Coast Titans will be a good opportunity to try and implement the new game plan.

"We have come up with a style that we think is going to best suit us as a team," he said.

Green believes across the board, the Warriors have big athletic ball carriers and his role will be to get them the ball in space as much as possible.

His statement is reinforced by the total metres per position stats of 2017.

There were some tough times for the Warriors in 2017.
There were some tough times for the Warriors in 2017. ©Shane Wenzlick/NRL Photos

Last year the Warriors led the NRL in metres at both the hooker and wing positions, as well as finishing second in total metres from fullback and by the second row.

As disappointing as the Warriors defensive stats have been in recent times, the lack of flair on attack was on display more than ever last season.

But the players and coaching staff believe they have come up with a system that could see the return of Warriors football - where the ball is moved at will and players like Johnson are free to play what they see.

Fans will get to see for themselves this Saturday when the New Zealand club takes on the Titans from the Sunshine Coast, at 5pm.