Chanel Harris-Tavita has coach Todd Payten's blessing to "swear and be mean" to his teammates as he continues his development as the Warriors' halfback.
Payten has been encouraged by the 21-year-old New Zealander's performances since he took over the No.7 jumper from Blake Green two rounds ago.
Harris-Tavita set up a try with a cross-field kick in Friday night's brave 18-12 loss to ladder leaders Penrith at Central Coast Stadium, but it's not his skill that Payten sees as a particular work in progress.
"He's going to develop into a good first-grader and his direction and talk is probably the thing that he needs to – not get better – but it's a week by week thing," Payten said.
"It's about him feeling confident and comfortable with his role within the team. He needs to be able to feel comfortable with telling players around him where to go and what to do.
"And if he has to swear and be mean and whatever it takes, that's what he's got to get to. Like a good halfback."
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Despite coming up short in their bid to win three straight for the first time since round five in 2018, Payten was impressed with his side's effort.
He noted they were forced to do a lot more defensive work.
"We played tough – I've been asking for that for weeks. I thought we'd been building," Payten said.
"We played a team that was up the top of the ladder that had 160 more plays with the ball, 12 more sets, nine repeat sets, a lopsided penalty count – but we just kept turning up.
"And that's what the game's about."
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That's not to say Payten was entirely pleased.
"I thought we did have an opportunity to tie it up at the end and I didn’t think our kick finishes were where they needed to be," he said.
"And I didn't think we got to enough kicks when we had some opportunities down their end."
The interim mentor reiterated that his team are fuelled by wanting to make their families and fans in New Zealand proud.
He said the mood remains high in their Terrigal camp.
"Everyone's pretty happy in the facility we're in. We're in each other's pockets but it has its benefits," he said.
"The families are really enjoying their time in Australia, it's almost like a working holiday. There's a good spirit."
Payten allayed fears of an injury to second-rower Eliesa Katoa, who went off with three minutes to go, saying the rookie only had a cramp.