Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck admits the team is approaching the rest of their NRL campaign as 'must-win' territory if they want to play finals football at season's end.
While the top six teams have emerged and separated themselves from the chasing pack through 15 rounds, there is a logjam of teams vying for the lower seeded places in the playoffs. The Warriors are one of three teams currently on 12 points, while their opponents this Friday, the St George Illawarra Dragons, are one of three teams on 14 points.
Reaching the business end of the campaign, Tuivasa-Sheck said a win over the Dragons this weekend would be the ideal way to start their run home.
"It's definitely a game that we need to win to keep the playoffs a reality for us," he said. "I know there's still a lot of footy to be played and a lot of different decisions out there you can't control, but just putting on a good performance, trying to get the win and march on game by game is really important for us from here on in."
Over the remaining 10 rounds of the season, the Warriors only have two fixtures against teams currently in the top four which means they will have the power to take points off rivals also bidding for a spot at the lower end of the top eight.
The side gets a boost for that run from this weekend, with experienced campaigners in halfback Chad Townsend and outside back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak joining the team from the Cronulla Sharks and Canterbury Bulldogs.
"It only adds to the team," Tuivasa-Sheck said of the two joining the team.
"We've got a young group and having more players with that voice to come in and add value only does good for us. Especially with Chad in a crucial role, playing half, he'll come in, be nice and calm, speak really well and he'll do good things for us.
"Having them come in and bring what they do will only add to our team."
The match against the Dragons will be the first for the sides under the reinstated Covid-19 protocols, with no fans in attendance at Central Coast Stadium due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak in the Greater Sydney area.
"It's not going to be too bad," Tuivasa-Sheck said of a return to the behind-closed-doors environment. "You just have to go out there, do your job and do it the best you can."
Warriors team to face the Dragons: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Adam Pompey, Marcelo Montoya, Edward Kosi, Kodi Nikorima, Chad Townsend, Addin Fonua-Blake, Wayde Egan, Kane Evans, Eli Katoa, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Tohu Harris.
Interchange: Jazz Tevaga, Leeson Ah Mau, Bunty Afoa, Bayley Sironen, Rocco Berry, Jack Murchie, Taniela Otukolo, Sean Sullivan (four to be omitted)