The Warriors and expectation have always been uncomfortable bedfellows, but forward Ryan Hoffman believes his team can handle the hype ahead of the Auckland NRL Nines.

As well as being the hometown club, the Warriors have a star-studded lineup, with quicksilver talents like Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck operating behind a mobile pack.

That's reflected in their status as short-priced favourites on the New Zealand TAB; in the eyes of many, they are the team to beat this weekend.

Over the years the Auckland club hasn't dealt with that kind of situation very often - or very well, often finding the pressure of a big occasion crippling.


Hoffman hopes that won't the case this weekend, as the Warriors aim for their best result at the event, after reaching the last four in 2014 and the quarter-finals last year.

"There may be expectation from friends and family and there is always going to be expectation from fans because they want to see us do well," said Hoffman.

"But we can't control that expectation, we can't control that level of interest. All we can control is what happens over the white lines. We are going to enjoy it and we want to do well."

Across the Nines' short history some clubs haven't put much focus on the pre-season tournament, fielding a bunch of greenhorns.

The Warriors don't have that option, as the success of the event hinges partly on their performance. Last year's relative failure - they limped in their first knockout game - put a dampener on the final afternoon of the tournament.

The third incarnation of the Nines will also see the continued evolution of playing styles.

In 2014 nobody was quite sure how to play, and there were unusual tactics, like not kicking at all during sets or opting to kick long on the first or second tackle. Last year defence played a bigger role.

"The first year was a bit of a shemozzle because nobody really knew how to play it," said Hoffman. "Last year it was a bit tidier.

Teams aren't going to put their NRL seasons on the line for this but they will want to enjoy it and get something out of it. You will see teams with a bit more strategy and technical nous."

Hoffman, who made his Warriors' debut at last year's tournament, is preparing for his 14th season of first grade, after an injury interrupted campaign last year.

"The body feels great," said Hoffman. "League is too hard a game to play if you aren't still loving it and I certainly love this. It doesn't feel like year 14 ... it feels like another year doing something I love ...

"There is an exciting feeling around the club at the moment."

Warriors at the Auckland Nines

In 2014

• Pool play: Defeated Raiders, Sea Eagles, Cowboys.

• Quarter-final: Warriors 17 Rabbitohs 16

• Semifinal: Cowboys 8 Warriors 0

In 2015
• Pool play: Defeated Titans, Tigers. Lost to Raiders.
• Quarter-final: Sharks 14 Warriors 12