Warriors coach Stephen Kearney expects star playmaker Kieran Foran to stand and deliver for his side in tonight's must-win NRL clash against North Queensland in Townsville.
The pressure is on the Warriors marquee recruit to defy his critics and lead the side's attack in the absence of injured halfback Shaun Johnson, following two injury-affected performances from the five-eighth in consecutive defeats to Manly and Penrith.
With the Warriors needing at least five wins from their last seven games to keep their slim finals hopes alive, results over the next few weeks will be key to determining how Foran's brief time at the club is remembered before he departs to join the Canterbury Bulldogs next season.
The heat is well and truly on the former Manly premiership winner and Parramatta captain to show the leadership qualities, toughness and class that convinced the Warriors to throw him a career lifeline in the form of a one-year deal.
Kearney this week dismissed suggestions from former Warriors and Kiwis coach Frank Endacott that Foran was already thinking about his pending return to Sydney, but admitted his form has been below what's expected of the 21-test Kiwis player.
"I'm not going to be really critical of Kieran because it's a team performance," said Kearney.
"I thought he did some OK things early in the contest [against Penrith].
"Has he been at his best? Absolutely not. But he's not by himself there, so I don't think he's clocked out early.
"My expectation is you'll see a better performance from Kieran this week."
Foran finds himself under increased scrutiny at this crucial stage of the season after many questioned both the value of signing him on a short-term deal and the extreme lengths the club went to in helping him get his personal life and career back on track.
Doubts also hung over his fitness after season-ending shoulder surgery limited him to just nine outings for the Eels, but both Kearney and Warriors managing director Jim Doyle insisted Foran's presence alone would help embed a winning culture in the club.
The drawn-out saga around his contract registration and intense speculation about his playing future tested the patience of fans through the pre-season and lingering worries over his mental health and a recurring hamstring injury further delayed his club debut.
Despite being less than fully fit he impressed in his first two games with wins over the Titans and Eels easing the pressure, but he spent the next month playing on one leg.
Foran's name remained in the headlines as he wrestled with the decision of whether to extend his contract and criticism of his commitment continued both before and after his move to Canterbury was eventually confirmed in early May.
More frustration followed with a thigh injury suffered in the round 14 win on the Gold Coast keeping him out of the win over the Bulldogs a fortnight later.
He carried the injury into the Sea Eagles' encounter in Perth, but the problem was exacerbated when a tackle from Manly prop Brenton Lawrence left him with a hip injury.
That knock, together with a niggling back problem, continued to dog him in last week's loss to the Panthers, but Kearney is confident he will rise to the challenge against the in-form Cowboys.
With time running out on his Warriors career, the onus is on him to provide some spark and ease the pressure on replacement No7 Mason Lino.
"He's a competitor. He doesn't like losing either He knows his mate [Johnson] is down, so I'm sure we'll see Kieran at his best this week."