War­riors try to stay grounded

Waikato Times - - Sport - MARVIN FRANCE

While the War­riors had the ben­e­fit of fly­ing un­der the radar in Perth, now the chal­lenge is to per­form when ev­ery­one ex­pects them to.

Prior to the start of the sea­son, this week­end’s NRL clash against Gold Coast at Mt Smart would have been one of the few games over the open­ing eight rounds the Auck­land club would have been favoured to win.

They have owned the Ti­tans since 2011, win­ning 13 of their last 14 matches, in­clud­ing the last five in a row.

Of course, both teams made a mock­ery of pre-sea­son pre­dic­tions last week as the Ti­tans, un­der rookie coach Garth Bren­nan, pulled off a great es­cape against Can­berra a day af­ter the War­riors’ up­set win over South Syd­ney.

Still, play­ing at home for the first time this year and given the all-round qual­ity of their per­for­mance against the Rab­bitohs, the War­riors head into the match as strong favourites.

"This com­pe­ti­tion is 26 rounds and you've got turn up every week with an at­ti­tude to do a job and im­prove your­self."

Stephen Kear­ney, War­riors coach

De­spite be­ing only one game, the hype is al­ready build­ing around Stephen Kear­ney’s squad, with a 28-strong me­dia pack turn­ing up to train­ing yes­ter­day.

But well aware they achieved noth­ing yet, cap­tain Roger Tuiv­asa-Sheck says there has been no need to bring the team back to earth.

‘‘They’re all ex­cited and happy that they got the win but af­ter the re­view, there’s still a lot of im­prove­ments that we need to make,’’ Tuiv­asa-Sheck said.

‘‘There’s still lots of small things we can fix and the way the Ti­tans played last week, we need to step up again.’’

The re­sult in Perth in­stilled a con­fi­dence within the team around their new struc­ture and game plan.

That they were able to ex­e­cute at a high level was down to their prepa­ra­tion and that’s all they are wor­ried about this week, as op­posed to the ex­tra at­ten­tion com­ing their way.

‘‘This com­pe­ti­tion is 26 rounds and you’ve got to turn up every week with an at­ti­tude to do a job and im­prove your­self,’’ Kear­ney said.

‘‘We’ve got a spe­cific fo­cus for our­selves this week­end and that’s mak­ing sure we pre­pare re­ally well to per­form well – it doesn’t change with how many cam­eras are here.’’

Tuiv­asa-Sheck is look­ing to back up one of his most im­pres­sive per­for­mances in a War­riors jer­sey on Sat­ur­day.

Against Souths, the star full­back ran for more than 100m and made two out­stand­ing try-sav­ing tack­les as well as pro­duc­ing two try as­sists in the sec­ond half to seal the re­sult.

Tuiv­asa-Sheck’s ball-play­ing abil­ity has not been as prom­i­nent as it was at the Roost­ers.

How­ever, it’s an area of his game he is keen to utilise more along­side halves Blake Green and Shaun John­son.

‘‘Play­ing with Greeny and Shaun John­son, be­ing able to create space on the edge there for our boys to score, that’s part of my game I want to grow and it’s my job to do it,’’ Tuiv­asa-Sheck said.

‘‘I’m pleased with the way I started but I feel there’s a lot of ar­eas I need to put into my game, es­pe­cially my back­field po­si­tion­ing and catch­ing the high balls,’’ he said.


Roger Tuiv­asa-Sheck gets back into train­ing for the War­riors af­ter last week’s open­ing-round win over South Syd­ney.

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