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No hype but plenty of hope for Warriors

Luisa Avaiki suddenly understands how Stephen Kearney and other Warriors coaches have felt for years. And just like her male counterparts she's not complaining.

Pundits across Australia weren't backward in coming forward to write off the Warriors at the beginning of the NRL season and the dismissals continue even now that Kearney's men have reached the finals for the first time in seven seasons.

Likewise, Avaiki's trailblazing women haven't generated much hype leading into the inaugural NRL Holden Women's Premiership, not beyond Auckland anyway.

A simple case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind indifference or genuine trans-Tasman, big sister disrespect? Real or perceived, Avaiki intends using it to the Warriors' advantage ahead of Saturday's historic clash against the Sydney Roosters that will launch the Holden Premiership at ANZ Stadium.

"The way we go under the radar and other NRL clubs are probably rated above us ... a little bit of what our girls have experienced is what our first grade men have been experiencing for years and years," Avaiki said.

"To be honest I kind of like that because they don't know what to expect from us. Hopefully we do give them some nice surprises in the weekend and they get a little bit of a challenge from our girls."

NRLW Roosters v Warriors - Round 1

Asked what that challenge might look like for the Roosters and Brisbane and St George Illawarra after them, Avaiki basically spelt out the DNA of Warriors men's teams.

"It sounds clichéd, but a lot of passion," Avaiki said of her side which includes an all Kiwi Ferns spine, with 2017 NZRL player of the year Apii Nicholls at fullback, captain Laura Mariu and Georgia Hale in the halves and Krystal Rota at hooker, as well as plenty of new faces.

"Just the way they just go after everything defensively, they'll go in for the big hits and that doesn't faze them. On attack they try things, they're risk takers, they'll have a go when you shouldn't really expect it. So the physicality, the passion and probably the risks they will take to get a play on to score a try is pretty exciting."

Avaiki knows from previous Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos encounters that the star-studded Roosters will front up physically and expects a strong kicking game from veteran halves Lavina O'Mealey and lock Zahara Temara.

"I also anticipate they'll want to get some very quick ball out to the edges because they've got some very experienced and quick centres out there that they'll want to utilise.

"But to be honest we don't expect any of the games to be easy. We know that comes with being in this competition and we're up for the challenge."

Avaiki also knows one of her toughest challenges will be to keep a lid on nerves and internal expectation.

"That's huge because we do have a few girls who have never experienced being at this level before and so it's just encouraging them to manage that," she said.

"You can't ignore that - the pressure of being in a competition like this is there. I don't even like saying to the girls that it's going to be easy because that's not preparing them for it either.

"The way we've trained is to make sure even our sessions are difficult, so they're always feeling pressure and hopefully that helps them to manage that when they get into situations in the game, that it's nothing new."

Nothing new, just like being written off on the other side of the Tasman Sea.

Acknowledgement of Country

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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