Warriors settled in after demanding pre-season
Warriors coach Matthew Elliott is delighted with how his players have responded to the opening gauntlet of a testing NRL pre-season, and it's not just the man in charge feeling like he's found a new home in Auckland.
“It's been a pretty demanding eight or nine weeks, I don't even know [how long], it feels about nine years sometimes,” says Elliot.
His satisfaction at his troops’ efforts at training is a far cry from how he felt about their initial efforts.
“I was frightened after day one of training, I'll be honest with you, but I feel very secure now that we're heading in the right direction.”
And it hasn't just been the coach settling in – there are five new faces in the playing ranks, including one of the Storm’s premiership winners Todd Lowrie, who's impressed with the work ethic.
“That's what it's all based on down in Melbourne, there's no substitute for hard work and we've been doing a lot of that over the last month,” says Lowrie.
That was the mantra of the man whose jersey - and role - Lowrie's expected to fill.
“I'm certainly not going to try and be Michael Luck or anything. What he did for this club was fantastic.”
“I'll come and try and give my best every week.”
Queensland Origin centre Dane Nielsen takes over another important role - that of team troublemaker - from old mate James Maloney, but the man most likely to assume Maloney's position is once-again Warrior Thomas Leuluai.
“I was a young fella then,” says Leuluai. “I think I started when I was 17, it was a bit of a whirlwind and maybe I wasn't quite ready but I learnt a lot of lessons and I wouldn't change it.”
Another thing the Warriors don't want to change is their home ground, as talk intensifies about a forced move from Mt Smart.
“I think Eden Park is a fantastic playing terrain but there's no use being somewhere if you can't embed your preparation in that area as well,” says Elliot.
And a training-paddock visit from co-owner Owen Glenn came with words of encouragement that will need to be backed up next year with action.
“We're going to show the Aussies, we're going to fire a couple of shots.”