Fresh attitude behind Warriors defensive turnaround
The New Zealand Warriors have enjoyed their best ever start to a Telstra Premiership campaign on the back of some bruising defence, a trait absent the past few years.
Stephen Kearney's men held last year's grand finalists the North Queensland Cowboys to 12 points as they notched win number five on the bounce in front of a sell-out crowd at Mt Smart Stadium.
Having scored more than 20 points in all of their fixtures this year, the Warriors' attack has been slick to say the least.
But on Saturday, speaking after their 22-12 victory, it was their defence which impressed coach Kearney.
"The attitude and commitment is different (than in previous seasons)," he said.
"Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck) says he feels comfortable at the back, and the boys in the middle of the park are responding to him."
Kearney labelled his captain "the conductor" in defence, as the Warriors again protected their goal-line against arguably the best halves pairing in the game.
In his first match this season, forward Simon Mannering said having Tuivasa-Sheck barking orders is a huge boost for the side - particularly under fatigue.
"Roger is very important in that part of the field defensively, even though he's not making the tackles himself, he's the one pushing everyone around and telling us where to go," Mannering said.
"It's a collective effort as well and I definitely feel we are getting better."
Coming off the bench, Mannering played 60 minutes and pulled up well.
Kearney said he was proud of Mannering's efforts and anticipated his time on the bench would be short lived.
"He's our most decorated player and I know he is going to go out there and get the job done 99 times out of 100, so he won't be too far away from starting," he said.