A decent spell of soul-searching has left the Warriors determined to get their NRL season back on track against the Cowboys in Auckland on Saturday night.
Coach Ivan Cleary believes the bye came at a good time. Three consecutive losses have derailed a promising start but the Warriors have used their down time to try to sort things out.
There's been some intensive training – particularly on their defence – and plenty of honest talk as well.
Relief on the injury front brings senior players Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei and Brett Seymour back into the frame. But Cleary senses the entire squad is in a good frame of mind for this restart.
"We are disappointed with the last few weeks there is a real determination there. That's been fairly obvious to see and that's been pleasing for me," Cleary said of the break.
"We have had a good honest discussion about how we have gone in the first eight weeks but more importantly about how we finished and where we want to be, certainly at home. That's a real issue that we are very keen to address this week."
Three of the Warriors five losses have come at Mt Smart leaving them frustrated at being unable to take advantage of some rare good form on the other side of the Tasman.
The Warriors look to have a bit more size about them up front this week and, after the way they got rolled over by Canberra in their last loss, that won't be a bad thing.
"It's not so much about the size it's more about the impact," emphasised Cleary.
"I have definitely picked a team which we are looking for a lot more steel in it, particularly at the start of the game.
"We were disappointing in our last outing ... Canberra don't need any encouragement to take the ball forward."
Adding to the bulk up front will be a start for Ukuma Ta'ai, the return of Mannering and a debut for energetic young prop Mataupu Poching.
Cleary is excited about Poching's potential as the search goes on for cover for Steve Price who remains sidelined with a heel injury in his last season.
"Upu is a young player that has shown a lot of promise but injuries have held him back over the last couple of years. But he's finally got some football with the Vulcans and we feel he is ready for a shot at the big time."
The Cowboys, who have had their own struggles, come to Auckland fresh off a big win over the Roosters last Monday night and with their star Johnathan Thurston having signed on for another three years although he remains sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Warriors: Lance Hohaia, Kevin Locke, Brent Tate, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Brett Seymour, Sam Rapira, Aaron Heremaia, Mataupu Poching, Simon Mannering (captain), Ukuma Ta'ai, Micheal Luck. Interchange (one to be omitted): Ian Henderson, Ben Matulino, Jeremy Latimore, Russell Packer, Jesse Royal.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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