Warriors back rower Adam Blair believes their season can be salvaged – but agrees there were some worrying signs last Friday night against Canberra.
The senior forward admits that the Warriors' defensive issues were magnified by a domino effect, where some poor decisions become contagious across the team.
After a promising five game run that had yielded three wins and a draw, the Auckland side took a major backward step against the Raiders, with their 46-12 loss one of the worst of the year.
They looked second best from the first few sets, and the game was over in the 35th minute when Canberra crossed for their fourth try.
It was a performance that was hard to reconcile with their recent output, but Blair said it revealed some attitude issues.
"Defence is an attitude thing and I think for our group if one or two people are off defensively, we all seem to be off together," said Blair. "You start working against each other, instead of knowing what your job and your role is, you start forgetting about your job and start doing things out of the team structure. We went away from what's been working [and] lost that aggression and intent in what we did."
Unfortunately, it wasn't the first time in 2019. The same group wise malaise, and lack of desire and hunger, was evident in the losses against the Tigers (Sydney), Sea Eagles (Christchurch) and Knights (Mt Smart), results that have proved extremely costly in the context of the season.
It's left the Warriors three points outside the eight, and with the toughest run home of any contender, with four opponents in the top five and the fast rising Sharks.
Blair isn't exactly bullish about their finals prospects – which seem to be not much more than a mathematical equation – but there is no sign of the white flag either.
"[What we did] in the six weeks previous you don't lose all that ability over one game," said Blair. "It's still there. The finals are a long way away but if we can turn up with a better attitude than what we did last week and individually prepared to go to battle and make sure we do everything properly then we give ourselves a chance to compete. It's the old cliché, one game at a time ... but that is what it has to be for us."
After aggravating his ankle injury last Friday, Kodi Nikorima took no part in training on Tuesday and isn't expected to be in the frame for the Sea Eagles clash. Hooker Karl Lawton was involved in the session but looks at long odds to play given his shoulder problem, with Jazz Tevaga likely to fill the dummy half role on Friday.
"Our top three hookers aren't playing which isn't ideal and we have Jazz in there this week and his preferred position is 13," said halfback Blake Green. "[But we] just need to deal with it and move on. [It will be a] different pairing at No 9 and hopefully they do a good job."