Kodi Nikorima maintains the Warriors are on the right track, despite a potentially costly 8-2 loss to the Broncos on Saturday night.
The Warriors were up for the battle – unlike some previous efforts at Mt Smart this season – and threw everything into the contest, in a match of remarkable physical intensity.
But they couldn't quite get the job done, ultimately lacking the finesse and polish to turn long periods of sustained pressure into points.
The Broncos' defence was remarkable, reminiscent of their effort against the Roosters a week earlier, but the Warriors needed to find a way through.
But they couldn't, and it leaves the Auckland team in a precarious position. At close to the halfway stage of the season, the Warriors (eight points) now have little margin for error if they want to make a run at the playoffs in 2019.
But Nikorima, who tasted his first defeat in Warriors colours, feels it won't be a season defining moment.
"The effort was definitely there, just [missing] the execution on our good ball attack," said Nikorima
"I'll put my hand up there…I threw one over the sideline and too many errors like that were costly at the end."
"[But] I spoke to Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck] and Blake [Green] after the game and said 'we are not going to lose confidence over that'. It was a tight game, and a good game; 2-2 at halftime, there was nothing in it, except for that try they got at the end from my mate 'Milf' (Anthony Milford)."
With such a premium put on preparation in the modern game, Nikorima revealed that the Warriors buildup was a little off, which ultimately may have cost them on Saturday night.
"Early on in the week with our training we probably didn't execute and that sort of showed out there [on Saturday]," said Nikorima. "It's important that we get our preparation right in training..that is where you get your confidence from and you can use that confidence heading into a game."
"But I don't like making excuses…I'm all for turning up and doing the best out there no matter what. Tonight we were just a bit off."
They certainly were. Passes were often in front or behind the runner, and the flow evident in the backline moves in Brisbane and Penrith wasn't there.
Instead of naturally clicking through the gears, it was all a bit clunky and easy to read. It wasn't helped by the Broncos swarming defence, remarkable line speed, and almost impeccable first up contact.
"You have to give credit to their defence," said Nikorima. "They did a good job wrestling our set up play and we didn't create that ruck speed where they had numbers down. It seemed like they were always stacked on the open side [when] we were shifting the ball."
Nikorima had a mixed night but never stopped trying. He copped plenty of attention from his former teammates, as expected, but also came the closest to scoring, millimetres away from forcing a Green grubber early in the second half.
"I should have attacked it a bit more," said Nikorima. "The ball was coming in my direction and I just waited that little second and it kept scooting away from me."
The 25-year-old also had no complaints about a high shot from Kotoni Staggs, with the Broncos centre catching him flush in the face in the first half.
"I got him with a bit of footwork and he stuck his arm out," said Nikorima. "It was a lazy tackle on his behalf. He apologized straight away and there was nothing in it."
After a review session on Sunday, and a few days training early this week, the squad will have an extended weekend break, a chance to take a breath after a draining recent schedule.
"[We] look forward to the bye week [and] resting the body," said Nikorima. "I think it is more mental than physical, and then we come back here in two weeks against Melbourne."