Warriors ready to erase memories of last season

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 09/02/2014
Jacob Lillyman
Getty Images
HARD MAN: Prop Jacob Lillyman.

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After an off season where the Rugby League World Cup was the biggest focus, it's back to club duty for everyone in the NRL and this afternoon the Warriors take on the Titans in a pre-season match at North Harbour Stadium.

The fact the Titans have named Aidan Sezer and Albert Kelly in the halves shows how seriously they're taking this game, while the Warriors are using the fixture as more of a warm up for those in the Auckland Nines squad while also giving a few of the younger players a run.

While the result of today's game will be irrelevant, it will at least provide an idea of how preparations have gone for the upcoming season.

The Warriors' 2013 campaign couldn't have ended in more disappointing fashion, with a 19-10 loss to a pitiful Dragons side ending their season. It was a game they needed to win to keep their top eight aspirations alive, yet with so much riding on it they put in an appalling performance.

For Warriors coach Matt Elliott that was the final straw and he has now taken a firmer grip on how he wants things to be run at the club. No longer is it just about how talented a player is, they also need to have the right attitude to go along with it.

Warriors captain Simon Mannering, who won't take to the field until the trial game against the Broncos in a couple of weeks, says there have been meetings with Elliott about how to approach things this year and what lessons were learnt from last year's failed campaign.

"There have been a few conversations on that, not just with myself but a few other guys also," Mannering told Sunday News.

"There is no secret about what page we're on. We all want to achieve success with this team and last season and the one before were pretty disappointing. We've got a big year ahead of us."

Ben Matulino says the importance of the Warriors' pre-season campaign can't be underestimated.

"Since I joined the team in January the whole mindset has been about winning and you can see that everything's a lot more intense now and guys are putting shots in on each other and I think that's good."

Matulino was close to some of the players who moved on from the Warriors after last season and he was disappointed to see some of them go, but he says there is a good vibe in the squad at the moment.

"The coaches have done their homework on what happened last year and they've changed a lot," he said.

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Meanwhile, the Warriors yesterday named their team to take on Wigan.

- Sunday News

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