The New Zealand Herald
Wonder Warriors keeping grounded
Kearney: ‘I don’t think we have got even close to our potential’
The Warriors are on a barely believable winning run — but coach Stephen Kearney feels they have only scratched the surface in terms of what the they can deliver.
The 22-12 victory over the Cowboys last Saturday was the Warriors’ fifth in succession. It’s a run which has set records (their previous best streak to start a season was two) and smashed perceptions, as critics on both sides of the Tasman recast the 2018 Warriors.
It has been extraordinary, especially compared to their previous output. Remember last year the team accumulated just seven wins across the entire campaign. In 2016, the Warriors didn’t achieve five wins until June and there was a similar sorry start under Matthew Elliott in 2013. In 2014, and 2015, the team reached the 10-point mark in the second half of May, with the best recent record coming in 2011, when Ivan Cleary took the teams to five wins from their first nine games.
But Kearney thinks there is much more to come from his side.
“I guess the excitement for me come from the fact [that] I don’t think we have got even close to our potential,” Kearney said. “There is a lot of improvement here. But that doesn’t just happen, that takes hard work. We have plenty of work to do, and we need to keep focusing towards that.”
There is certainly a noticeably different feel around Warriors HQ. The team is upbeat, full of confidence and wanting more — evidenced by a group that stayed behind to do extras in the driving rain after training yesterday.
But despite all the ground gained already in 2018, Kearney maintains that no one at Mt Smart will be getting carried away.
“If doesn’t change anything in terms of what you have to do,” said Kearney. “The moment you take your eye off the ball is the moment that it comes and gets you. I anticipate that that is going to happen at some stage — so it’s about continually working towards improvement, filling in the gaps, making us better where we need to be better.”
Kearney is also wary of going in as favourites against a wounded Broncos outfit, who have endured two close losses over the last week.
“[On Saturday] we play a determined, committed footy team with a very proud history and a very good coach,” said Kearney.
“There were areas from our game on the weekend that we need to make some adjustments to. That’s the next stage for us, getting things right at training to perform well on Saturday. We always need to look to improve ourselves, especially against the Broncos.”