Senior forward Adam Blair believes the Warriors have come a long way since they were humiliated by Melbourne on Anzac Day and is confident they can turn the tables in Sunday's NRL clash at Mt Smart Stadium.

Blair insists the Auckland outfit are a changed team from that which was belted 50-10 by the Storm at AAMI Park in round eight and now have the mettle to match the reigning premiers.

"We're a different team from then no doubt," said Blair.

"We've moved forward in the right direction. It's going to be physical and they wrestle well and you've got to be in the grind with them.


"They'll know they gave us a hiding over there and they'll understand that we're coming here to win and it's going to be a tough game."

Good conditions helped the Warriors rediscover their best form in last week's 26-6 win over Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, with 17 offloads helping create seven line breaks in the demolition.

Agnatius Paasi (centre) celebrates his try with Gerard Beale (R) and Jazz Tevaga (L). Photo / Photosport
Agnatius Paasi (centre) celebrates his try with Gerard Beale (R) and Jazz Tevaga (L). Photo / Photosport

More fine weather will assist plans to unleash the same expansive style and while there are few chinks in the Storm's armour, Blair believes they remain vulnerable to offloads and free-flowing attacking play.

"Over the years if you watch them play, they do struggle a little bit with second phase play," he said.

"We're playing a good style of football and hopefully we can show a similar style to what we played against the Broncos.

"If we get a nice sunny afternoon at Mt Smart in front of 20,000-plus we'll be playing that similar way and we'll have fun doing it."

Despite their newfound confidence, Blair says the Warriors are under no illusions about the size of the challenge that awaits them.

The Warriors missed several scoring opportunities last week but will need to be more patient and clinical in finishing any half-chances that come their way.


Containing the star-studded Storm will take a collective effort across the park but the Warriors know the visitors' play all starts with their champion captain and dummy half.

"Cameron Smith controls a lot of that team and seems to pull the trigger and hit the right person at the right time," said Blair.

"It will be a tough battle through the middle like every other week and then executing plays on the outside is crucial for us.

"They're formidable all over the field, Origin players, internationals, so we've got a big task on Sunday afternoon."

The Storm's Cameron Smith remains the danger man for the Warriors. Photo / Photosport
The Storm's Cameron Smith remains the danger man for the Warriors. Photo / Photosport

Confirmation midweek of Simon Mannering's pending retirement will no doubt provide a further boost to the home side, although the veteran forward will want his teammates to simply focus on their collective goals.

The Warriors will also be driven to restore some pride on their home turf having lost half of their eight matches at Mt Smart, including the last three in a row against the Roosters, Rabbitohs and Sharks.

"It's hard to say, Simon wouldn't want us to do it that way," said Blair.

"We're at home in front of our crowd so we'd love to go out and play well not only for Simon but the club and the people that turn up for us."

The Warriors will welcome the return of Kiwis debutant wing Ken Maumalo from a knee problem, while hard-running prop Bunty Afoa is among the extended reserves after overcoming an elbow injury.

"They both need to tick a few boxes but we should know by the end of the training [on Thursday]," said coach Stephen Kearney.

Meanwhile, back-rower Leivaha Pulu will also turn out for the club's ISP team in the earlier game against the Wyong Roos as he continues his return from a foot injury that has kept him out of action since mid-April.