Warriors owner Mark Robinson has established a high ceiling for his club's NRL chances in 2021, describing their roster as the best in a long time.
The Warriors completed their 2020 campaign on Sunday with a 40-28 win over Manly, capping off a tumultuous season that saw them relocate to New South Wales and experience a myriad of player selection issues.
But a platform flourishing with hope was laid down with eight wins out of 18 games since the competition restarted in May, far beyond what many anticipated.
The club won't have Todd Payten at the helm next year who is arguably the game's most exciting coach with the turnaround he orchestrated, and has been snapped up as the head coach of the North Queensland Cowboys. Instead, the Warriors will have Nathan Brown, the former Knights and Dragons mentor who's been in and out of the game as a player and coach for nearly 30 years.
The big question for the club is whether Brown can continue the rebuild Payten started. His arrival has already resulted in three notable signings in middle-forwards Addin Fonua-Blake and Kane Evans, and centre Euan Aitken, as well as prop Ben Murdoch-Masila who was confirmed back in March. It creates a roster Robinson is excited by.
"I think it's probably the best roster the club's had since Stacey Jones and Awen Guttenbeil and those boys back then, when they were pushing for the finals. I think this is our best roster probably for four years," he says. "Definitely expecting top eight next year."
"We want to win it [the Premiership] but we all got to be realistic too because we don't want to put a lot of pressure on ourselves.
"[But] to be fair it's got to be a top eight club with that roster... If we make the top six that's fantastic, if we do even better than that… it's amazing."
Robinson's ask could be a tad too almighty. The Warriors have struggled to get out of their cesspool of mediocrity since 2012, with just the one finals appearance to their credit, which looked more and more like a fluke as former coach Stephen Kearney's tenure progressed prior to his sacking.
And even another relocation won't topple Robinson's expectations. "There's other clubs in a lot worse condition than us, and all we're going to do now is improve with our roster getting stronger… we're looking good," he adds.
Of the six clubs below the Warriors - the Broncos, Bulldogs, Cowboys, Dragons, Sea Eagles and Tigers - four will be under new head coaches next year, with all needing to fill significant holes in their rosters.
In order to meet the forecast Robinson is attaching to his playing group, which has never been met outside of the tenures of Daniel Anderson and Ivan Cleary, and that season two years ago, he says a great culture needs to be established. That appears off to a good start.
"I always got on with Nathan [Brown] really well, and I think the team that he's building and the way he's going about his duty, I think he's going to be great. I think he's going to bring another dimension to our team, with a new assistant coach too. I'm really looking forward to it, and I think the team is looking forward to it," Robinson says.
"A new journey, a new start, a new culture, everyone's working together everyone's talking, there's no hierarchy and we all get on."
Headlining the Warriors hopeful resurgence will be Fonua-Blake, who is widely regarded as the best front rower in the game right now. The Mount Smart club pounced on the opportunity as soon as the 24-year-old revealed his desire to leave Manly at the end of the year.
"[Signing Fonua-Blake is] a credit to the whole of the Warriors organisation to be honest, that one of the best front rowers in the game wants to come to the Warriors," Robinson says.
"He's friends with a couple of the other boys that are here and he's friends with a couple of new boys. That just shows what we've done and how we're a family club… that people now want to come and play for the Warriors."