Their NRL finals run was short-lived but the Warriors' best campaign since 2011 showed the club is heading in the right direction after six years in the wilderness.

Stephen Kearney's team made big strides defensively and showed an improved ability to grind out games they would have previously lost to finish with a 15-9 win-loss record.

But to find their best form throughout the year, the Warriors relied on every player performing to the best of their ability and losses often came when they were off in just one or two areas.

Saturday's season-ending 27-12 defeat to Penrith exposed their shortcomings with playmakers Shaun Johnson and Blake Green largely nullified as the forwards and back three struggled to create any momentum. Some younger players lacked composure and senior leaders failed to step up and guide the way once inspirational captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck succumbed to a knee injury.


With little room left to spend under the salary cap for next year, the Warriors will field a mostly unchanged squad and hope individuals continue to mature and develop to enhance their collective performance.

Alongside Green, Johnson enjoyed his best season since 2015, but the 28-year-old 162-game veteran still struggles when the chips are down and, somehow, must find ways to do more for his side.

Tuivasa-Sheck was deservedly named Player of the Year and his brilliant running and desperate defence helped them win more games than they would have managed without him.

Wings David Fusitu'a and Ken Maumalo were both strong contributors but together with centre Solomone Kata are still prone to lapses and have plenty of improvement left in them.

Peta Hiku has his defensive issues but is a class act on attack, while Gerard Beale's consistency will see him push Kata for his spot on the left edge.

Question marks hang over the hooking role with off-contract No 9 Issac Luke still in discussions to re-sign and considering interest from both Parramatta and Newcastle.

The club was counting on Nathaniel Roache serving as Luke's deputy before taking the reins next season but back surgery meant he was sidelined all year.

Having made just 20 appearances since debuting in 2016 the Warriors would prefer Roache gained more experience next season alongside Luke, if the 31-year-old agrees to stay a reduced contract.


Bench utility Jazz Tevaga impressed filling in at loose forward but was a stop-gap measure at dummy-half when Luke was out injured. The 23-year-old is also off-contract and in talks to re-sign and Simon Mannering's retirement could see him spend more time at lock behind Adam Blair.

Up front the Warriors were well served by front-rowers Agnatius Paasi and James Gavet but the signing of Dragons recruit Leeson Ah Mau will give them added punch and experience.

Second-rower Isaiah Papali'i was terrific in his first full season and together with young props Bunty Afoa and Chris Satae should blossom further next year.

The Warriors finished just one win behind minor premiers the Sydney Roosters but are still learning what it takes to match it with the best teams.

A long-awaited historic title remains the obvious goal but long-term success will only come if they can build on this season and prove themselves as a finals force in 2019.