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Warriors coach Stephen Kearney.

Kearney hoping new recruits spark Warriors

New Zealand Warriors coach Stephen Kearney is comfortable with the club's contract negotiations with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck even though vultures are circling their star fullback.

Kearney said the talks regarding his captain's future were "all part of the business" and had not come as much of a surprise.

"We had the same situation with Shaun (Johnson) last year and it will be someone else next year," he said.

"If I was another NRL club looking for a fullback I'd be talking to Roger as well so it's just part of the business.

"We have been in pretty close contact with Roger and his management team and we are comfortable with where we are at right now."

Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck gives teammates a pep talk.
Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck gives teammates a pep talk. ©

Kearney's primary focus is the trials and getting the best out his team, which has received an off-season shake-up with the arrival of several recruits.

Heading into their first trial against the Melbourne Storm in Rotorua next Saturday, Kearney said the club was building nicely after a tough pre-season.

The standout performer among the new faces, according to the coach, has been former Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and Penrith Panthers outside back Peta Hiku.

"He's been fantastic for us Peta, both on and off the field. He's an old-style type of player," Kearney said.

"He doesn't look like your modern-day footy player but he knows how to get the job done and he has really enjoyed being back home with his young family. He is just a very intelligent football player."

Warriors recruit Peta Hiku.
Warriors recruit Peta Hiku. ©

The Warriors said the armada of recruits, which also includes Melbourne Storm forward Tohu Harris, Brisbane Broncos prop Adam Blair and Manly five-eighth Blake Green, had brought a level of professionalism to the club, particularly in their preparation.

One of those soaking up advice from the experienced heads around him was former Gold Coast Titan back-rower Leivaha Pulu, who signed a three-year deal with the Warriors in May to return to home soil after leaving Auckland as a teenager.

"Leivaha has a wonderful energy about him and he is really keen to break into that 17 and that's what you want to see," Kearney said.

"The way that he has been this pre-season has gone he has given himself every opportunity to be a part of that round-one squad.

"It's a been a tough pre-season, everyone has been slugging it out. For me it's all about just being in that round one 17 wherever they want me, wherever I can contribute. I just want to get among it."

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The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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