Kodi Nikorima has reaffirmed his commitment to the Warriors and insists the team hasn't given up on the finals as he prepares to return against Canberra after missing last weekend's match against Brisbane due to complications with the birth of his son, Elijah.
Nikorima's fiancée, Bree Tobler, delivered Elijah last Thursday but he had to spent time in an incubator before the couple were able to take him home on Wednesday and Warriors coach Nathan Brown told him to put his family ahead of playing in last weekend's clash with Brisbane.
"It was a slow start for my little one, he had to be put into an incubator," Nikiorima said.
"It was a little bit scary, but he got home yesterday so it is definitely exciting times ahead of us as a family. I am just glad it is all over now. He is here, he is healthy, he is safe and I am very happy."
The 27-year-old Kiwis utility watched last Sunday's 24-22 loss to the Broncos from hospital but is now looking forward to Friday night's clash against the Raiders as the Warriors aim to win their remaining two matches in a bid to snatch eighth place.
Cronulla, Canberra and Gold Coast are two points ahead of the Warriors on 20 points but Brown's men play the Raiders and Titans so would draw equal with those two teams if they win both games.
The Sharks play the Broncos and Storm, and a loss in either game would leave eighth place to be decided on for-and-against if the Warriors were to beat the Raiders and Titans.
"Obviously it is not ideal having to rely on other results going our way … but in terms of the season as a whole we have had seven games we either lost by 2, 4, 1 or 6 points so if we don't make the finals it will be one that got away," Nikorima said.
Prop Matt Lodge, who joined the Warriors mid-season from the Broncos and also missed last weekend's match against his former club due to suspension, also said the close losses could come back to the bite the team.
"I look at it like if we don't win these games we don't deserve to be there," Lodge said. "That's my approach.
"When I joined it wasn't to win the comp this year, it was just about the footy team getting better and better every week. I think that is happening and there are some people getting some good experience at the back end of the year.
"While I would love to be playing finals footy it is more laying the platforms for the future."
Warriors v Raiders - Round 24
The Warriors long term prospects have also received a boost, with Nikorima dispelling mid-season speculation that he was considering leaving the club to move closer to his and Tobler's families in Brisbane.
With uncertainty over borders, they had arranged for Bree to deliver the baby on the Central Coast, where the Warriors were based, and then re-arranged for her to give birth in Queensland after the team relocated.
"In terms of next year, I'm still here and pretty excited," he said. "In my head I always knew what was going on. I took up the option [in his contract] early on in the year and nothing has changed at my end."