The Warriors poor start to the NRL season confirms the fact they remain a long way off the pace and highlights the magnitude of the task faced by coach Stephen Kearney to turn the club around.

Three straight defeats after four rounds have revealed just how deeply ingrained their problems are while making clear there will be no quick-fix.

The basic errors, poor execution and fragile defence which marred yesterday's 26-12 defeat to St George Illawarra have become all too familiar over the past six seasons.

And while many of their problems are glaringly apparent, that does not make correcting them a straight-forward exercise.


Kearney has made it his mission to change the player's mindsets and instill a winning culture but that is proving no small feat, with a frustrated team struggling for confidence unable to pull themselves out of a hole.

Every NRL side can aspire to follow the example of the Storm or Broncos but those cultural shifts within a club cannot occur overnight, or in one preseason.

Kearney has inherited a group of players - many of whom are young and still in the formative stages of their first grade careers - that have very few positive experiences to fall back on during hard times.

Simon Mannering, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Ryan Hoffman have the experience to know what is required at the top level and the confidence and ability to consistently meet that challenge.

Others like Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke possess the talent to achieve those standards but can only do so much when poor ball control prevents the side from building sustained pressure or getting a roll-on.

There are encouraging signs in the growth shown in both David Fusitu'a and Ken Maumalo's play, but there are others, such as Tui Lolohea and Solomone Kata, who are struggling with their responsibilities. Their performances have plateaued or even gone backwards.

Looking back over the club's recent dark history of poor results, its little wonder some players fall in to bad habits when faced with an uphill battle.

Many appear conditioned to fear the worst when the pressure comes on, thanks to the side's history of under-achievement and the onslaught of criticism that inevitably follows.


Some -Manu Vatuvei for example - have spent almost their entire careers trying to shrug off stinging criticism. Much of it is justified, some of it isn't.

But continual negative reinforcement eventually takes its toll in undermining their ability to prepare and perform.

Time and again the Warriors have shown what they are capable of with a string of improved games, only for the cynicism around their ability to sustain a run of good form to inevitably manifest itself in lost opportunities and blown chances.

Many players have a defensive attitude to media as a result, and, as Johnson admitted last year, harsh critiques even played on his mind during games.

The Warriors haven't always needed to pick up a paper or go social media to hear negative voices - they were told they were mentally inadequate by club owner Eric Watson at last year's end of season awards night.

However well-intentioned Watson's comments were meant to be, they served as yet another humiliating reminder of where they stand in the eyes of many.


Kearney speaks regularly of the journey he is on with this side and the reality is one of his biggest tasks is to get the players believing in themselves.

That will only come in time and the transformation of the club may be years away from being fulfilled.