If Stephen Kearney is feeling the heat ahead of the NRL season, he is disguising it well so far.

There is currently less hype around the Auckland club than usual - fans have been burnt by too many promises of "new dawns" - but it is still one of the most anticipated Warriors' seasons in recent years.

Kearney is the prodigal son, expected to deliver success to his home nation's club, while Kieran Foran is the wildcard that could turn into an ace.

And Kearney - despite his impressive international record and status as the winningest Kiwis coach of the modern era - is still unproven in the NRL.


That all adds up to a mountain of expectation, but Kearney is sticking with a day-by-day mantra. At every media session he is asked his thoughts about all kinds of future permutations and possibilities, but his answer is almost always the same.

He's focused on the next training session, the next day, and perhaps the next week.

Yesterday was more of the same.

When asked if he was sensing the pressure, a week out from the opening game, Kearney played a straight bat.

"I am thinking about training on Monday," said Kearney. "After we have finished training today, I think about how best we can prepare the team for Monday. When Monday has finished, I will think about training on Wednesday. That's all my focus is. I'm not going to worry about anything else - my job is to prepare the team as best I can."

Asked when he would finalise his 17 man squad for the Knights match, he said Tuesday afternoon, "when it's due [to the NRL]."

It's an approach straight from the Craig Bellamy or Wayne Bennett playbook, who have been mentors for Kearney; plan and prepare for the future, but focus on the now.

It also extends to the playing group. Over the last five seasons, the team has been guilty of getting ahead of themselves, especially in 2014 and 2016 when they blew great opportunities to make the playoffs from prime positions.

Players lost focus, and forgot that each win makes the next victory even harder. That shouldn't happen this year, with little signs at each training session.

Yesterday there was an easy handling error, after a smooth period of mistake free play.

Some of the players' heads briefly went down, before Kearney barked "Next job ... next job ... what's your response."