Simon Mannering believes the Warriors have reached a fork in the road, with last Saturday's victory over the Dragons a turning point in their campaign.
The veteran forward has seen it all at the club – through good times and bad – and his words resonate more than most.
Instead of caving in the second half, the Warriors showed impressive resilience at Wollongong, against considerable odds, which sets them up well for the final month of the regular season.
"If we hadn't managed to get that win against the Dragons it would have been a whole different story [this week]," said Mannering. "It's such a fine line between something that can be really positive and something that is really hard."
It's the kind of performance that, after the fact, coaches and players savour. Not much went right in the final 40 minutes at WIN Stadium but they got the job done, a virtue that has characterized teams like the Storm and Sharks in recent years.
"It was really big, for where we are in our season, for our mental state," said Mannering. "It was good for the guys to realise what they can do. Even though we didn't play that good in the second half we hung tough."
Coach Stephen Kearney had labelled the team's effort "soft" against the Titans the week before, but Mannering said that such a public outing wasn't the catalyst for the win."
"We knew within ourselves, we didn't have to be labelled," said Mannering. "We knew that wasn't us, that we were a better side than what we showed."
The Warriors have had a yo-yo run over the last three months, where strong performances have often been followed by sub-par displays, from the round 10 loss to the Roosters after a tough win over the Tigers, to the recent flop on the Gold Coast after impressing against the Broncos and Storm.
Does this performance – and victory - herald the start of a solid run?
"I can't promise anything but I hope so," said Mannering. "We can't keep waiting until we have a bad loss to spark us back to life. Hopefully [the] Titans game is the last lesson, though I can't promise anything. We take nothing for granted week to week and we just need to make sure we are improving every week."
Kearney agreed that the Dragons display could be a springboard for the rest of the regular season.
"It's something we can use as a foundation to grow the back end of the year on," said Kearney. " I certainly hope so, with what we have got at stake…the games that we have got coming, three of them at home. It's about preparation, physically and mentally, preparing yourself for what's ahead. There is no room for any complacency."
Kearney was non-committal on the future of Issac Luke, with the hooker without a contract for next season.
Luke has been one of the Warriors' best performers this year, but the demands of the salary cap may squeeze him out.
"We are working our way through that…it's not a quick, easy process," said Kearney. "I'm sure if it is going to happen, it will happen…but there are constraints and we have to work within those."
Kearney was more definitive about Bunty Afoa's chances at his judiciary hearing on Tuesday night, with the prop facing a dangerous contact charge after an incident with Leeson Ah Mau.
"We are pretty confident," said Kearney. "We feel we have a good case."
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