Kiwis legend Ruben Wiki is relishing his new role as the Warriors' assistant head trainer, and is picking a marked improvement in the team's defensive efforts in 2013.
Wiki, who will act as No 2 to new strength and conditioning coach Carl Jennings, is now in a fulltime role at Mt Smart Stadium, after serving as a part-time "defensive mentor" in the Warriors' shambolic 2012 season.
The former Raiders and Warriors hardman, whose brutal training sessions are universally feared by the players, is more comfortable with his new role, meaning he will spend a lot more time whipping the players into shape.
The team copped a lot of criticism for their tackling efficiency last season - some perhaps unfairly levelled at Wiki himself - but the former Kiwi captain believes that will be a thing of the past.
"I was never actually the defensive coach," he told Sunday News. "I was more of a mentor. I just gave my philosophy on what defence meant to me, and that's the best part of the game.
"If you love hitting people with your mates, it just comes natural.
"We had a lot of young guys [last season] that didn't really grasp it mentally. They'd rather have the ball in their hand. But games are won on defence - and that should change this year."
Wiki, who has a two-year contract with the Warriors, played under Matt Elliott at the Raiders in the early years of last decade, with Jennings then the team's trainer.
He's looking forward to learning under the Englishman, who has also served as the Crusaders' trainer in Super Rugby.
Wiki is also confident Elliott will be a success at Mt Smart. "His philosophy is on hard work, and no excuses," Wiki said.
"The way you train is the way you play. That was my approach, before and after, so it certainly fits into my regime.
"I apologised to the boys [before the] pre-season, that if I knock you out, I'm saying sorry now. That's the mentality.
"We've got so much talent here. They're humble people too - but get them angry, and they respond."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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