Heading into the new NRL season, the Warriors go in with low expectations from fans and pundits. However, these judgments could be premature. Christopher Reive offers three reasons to back the Warriors in 2020.
Going into the season it looks like there will be plenty of opportunities for young players to impress.
New recruit hooker Wayde Egan could very well be a candidate for this role. A specialist rake, Egan garnered comparisons to a young Cameron Smith, with NRL great Andrew Johns noting similarities between the two players last year.
Challenged to be an 80-minute hooker last year at Penrith, the Warriors will benefit from having a full-time No 9, as opposed to Karl Lawton and Nathaniel Roache who are both converted halves.
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Second rower Josh Curran shapes up as another candidate, with Bunty Afoa ruled out for the season due to injury.
Depending on where Adam Blair is used – with the veteran moving between the second row, prop, lock and an interchange role in 2019 – Curran could provide added punch and enthusiasm to the pack.
A former New South Wales junior State of Origin rep and an Indigenous All Star this year, Curran has a knack for finding his way to the try line and has the motor to handle the step up to the NRL.
In past years, the Warriors have shouldered lofty expectations heading into the season only to come up short.
This year, things feel a little bit different. In conversation and passing comments, the average punter seems to have already conceded the Warriors won't be involved in playoff football.
This could end up being a good thing for both players and fans.
For the players, there's a point to prove. The squad has enough talent to test every team in the competition, and having so many people write them off early could work in their favour. For the fans, with low expectations, every win is a little bit sweeter.
The back line
However you look at this Warriors team, there's no denying the talent in the backline.
The aerial ability of David Fusitu'a, the strength and finishing prowess of Ken Maumalo and the sheer all-round talent of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck make the Warriors worth watching each week.
The trio can make the unbelievable look simple and with Tuivasa-Sheck being given more room to work in attacking positions this year, it will only add to the excitement whenever the Warriors fullback gets his hands on the ball.
Coach Stephen Kearney has signalled his intentions to shift Fusitu'a into the centres full-time, alongside the dependable Peta Hiku, as a way to get him more involved in the attack, which could see 2019 star rookie Patrick Herbert get a spot on the right wing on a permanent basis. Adam Pompey could also take over on the wing.
Christopher Reive's round one Warriors team: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Patrick Herbert, David Fusitu'a, Peta Hiku, Ken Maumalo, Blake Green, Kodi Nikorima, Agnatius Paasi, Wayde Egan, Leeson Ah Mau, Josh Curran, Tohu Harris, Lachlan Burr. Interchange: Isaiah Papali'i, Adam Blair, Leivaha Pulu, Chanel Harris-Tavita.
It would be nice to see Josh Curran given a shot in the starting team from the outset, with Adam Blair providing coverage for three positions in an impact role from the bench – though you can expect Blair will probably get the starting nod.
Whether or not Kearney chooses to use Fusitu'a on the wing or in the centres, he and Herbert are interchangeable.
As a trade rake, Egan gets the first shot in the vacant No 9 jersey, with Pulu getting a shot in an interchange role at least until Jazz Tevaga's ready to return from off-season ankle surgery.