Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: Attitude and application already questions for Warriors

Questions are already being asked about the Warriors' turnstile-like defending. Photo / Getty
Questions are already being asked about the Warriors' turnstile-like defending. Photo / Getty

It's perhaps a little disturbing that Warriors coach Andrew McFadden is already fielding questions about his side's attitude and application, a week before the NRL season has even started.

McFadden characterised the 46-10 trial loss to the Dragons last Saturday as a "blip" but admitted there were some concerns to come out of the match.

Despite fielding close to their strongest possible lineup, the Warriors were never in the match in Nelson, conceding eight tries to a rampant St George outfit.

"We can't accept those sorts of performances but it is a good reminder of what we need to focus on," said McFadden. "[There was] one side that was well up for it and we treated it too much like a trial."

McFadden admitted that maybe there was some complacency, after a strong pre-season block and all of their big guns on deck.

"Maybe we just all thought it was going to happen," said McFadden. "[It was] probably not unexpected that we had a little blip there but I didn't like the way it finished."

It's always dangerous to read too much into trials. In 2014 the Warriors smashed the Broncos 48-4 in Dunedin in their final trial, which fuelled all kinds of optimism. But the Auckland club then lost their first two matches of the regular season - while the Broncos won their first two - and coach Matt Elliott was gone by round five.

But after a full pre-season, and new assistant coach Justin Morgan putting a heightened focus on defence, some of the turnstile-type defending last Saturday was a surprise. Like we heard so many times last season, the issue was more about tenacity than technique.

"[Justin] has been working on consistency and positioning," said McFadden. "He has been working pretty hard with each individual but what we learnt on the weekend was that all those structures in place mean nothing unless you have the right attitude towards it. That's the big learning we got out of it."

But McFadden was confident that things could be turned around "very quickly", ahead of their first match next Saturday against the Tigers at Campbelltown, though conceded that the new look spine will take a bit of time to gel. That quartet is locked in, but some other positions remain up for debate, especially in the outside backs and the preferred forward rotation.

"We have a fair idea of what we are going to go with," said McFadden. "[Though] not too many good performances [last week] so a bit hard to read any form into it."

- NZ Herald

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