Reece Walsh is taking a glass half full approach to the Warriors' campaign in 2021, insisting that the team has plenty to build on for next season.
Their faint finals hopes were extinguished with Friday's 28-16 loss to the Raiders, a disappointing result after they were 16-0 ahead just before halftime.
With one game to play, the Warriors' best possible finish will be 10th equal, which will be hard to stomach, given the strength of their roster.
But Walsh takes some consolation from their unexpected late season bounce.
After six consecutive losses, including a couple of games they threw away, the Warriors were hammered 60-22 by the Rabbitohs in round 19.
Their injury toll was mounting, including senior forward Tohu Harris, while captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was back in Auckland.
Few would have been surprised if the Warriors flatlined from there, but instead they found something. Unlike in 2019 and 2017, the Warriors revived their season, with wins over the Tigers, Sharks and Bulldogs.
Ultimately it was too little, too late, but it means the club have something to build on.
"It has given us a lot of confidence," Walsh told the Herald. "A few weeks ago everyone was writing us off, saying we had put the [cue] in the rack and we are done for the season. Then we got a couple of wins.
"We know we are a good football team, we just have to start playing the footy we can play."
If Walsh is optimistic, he's also realistic, admitting that the Warriors were masters of their own downfall.
"If you look back we have lost seven games under six points," said Walsh. "We need to start executing and winning those close games. When we do lose, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. We are making it easier for the opposition teams to play footy, instead of making it harder for them."
Last Friday was a case in point, as the Warriors couldn't build on their fast start (three tries in the first 23 minutes). Instead they wobbled, barely stringing anything together in the second half, allowing the Raiders to find some impetus.
"We had opportunities where we really had them on the ropes and [we] let [the foot] off the throat," says Walsh.
Walsh was disappointed with his 77th minute field goal attempt at 16-16, though it wasn't an optimal set up.
"I need to strike them a lot better and need to keep practicing," says Walsh. "If I want that duty I have to be a lot better.
"[But] we shouldn't put ourselves in that position. In the second half we let the heat off and they didn't really have to work that hard to get out of their half."
The 19-year-old was frustrated with his contribution last Friday – "I didn't get involved enough" – but admits his NRL ascent is still hard to comprehend.
Walsh didn't play at all last season and arrived at the Warriors with two games of senior footy behind him. He made a surprise NRL debut on Anzac Day in Melbourne and has since accumulated 15 games.
"It's crazy," says Walsh. "I still wake up every day and look back at playing first grade every week. It's a dream come true and I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given here.
"I'm so excited for the years ahead, playing footy with these boys and these coaches, making this club a great club and really going a long way."
His biggest lesson from the last four months has been the value of preparation.
"You need to be really consistent with that," says Walsh. "From my perspective it shows when you are on and when you are off. I've prepared [well] for some games and then some games I haven't prepared well. That's something that I need to keep getting better at if I want to be a better player."
Coach Nathan Brown has tried to manage the teenager carefully, but it has been deep end learning, especially after Tuivasa-Sheck's exit. Walsh is fullback and defensive organiser, goal kicker, a playmaker and a kicker in general play.
"Yeah there is [a lot of responsibility] but I am pretty happy taking on those roles," says Walsh. "I just want to keep getting better and I have got the coaching staff here that are really helping me. Sometimes they want to rip my head off, but I'm young mate.
"They want to make me a good footballer and a long-term footballer and that is what I want as well. Any chance I get to ask questions and for them to tip me up and help me out I'm going to take it with two hands."