He has experienced Premiership glory in each of the past two years, but it’s memories of missing out on the playoffs that are shaping Andrew Webster’s approach to the final month of the regular season.
With his Warriors sitting third and on the cusp of returning to the finals for the first time since 2018, the rookie head coach has been steadfast in his refusal to look at the Telstra Premiership ladder or discuss the prospect of playing in the post-season.
And it's because while success was a given during his recent time at Penrith, his past stint at the Warriors and years spent with the Wests Tigers taught him not to start dreaming of the finals prematurely.
“I learned it while I was here last time. I can remember we beat Melbourne Storm here [in Round 18 of 2015], we [were] fourth… I think we lost every game for the rest of the season and missed the playoffs," Webster said.
“The two years I was here, I didn’t tell the players, [but] I was excited to make the playoffs and looked ahead.
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“I saw it at the Tigers, the first three years I was there we were close to the playoffs and I was looking mathematically at 'what we have got to do? How is this situation?' just sort of worrying about what we could do.
“I have just seen it happen too often where it can be your Achilles' heel.
“Going into the last game I’ll have a look [at the ladder]… but right now we have just got to win every week.
If you look ahead that is exactly how you don’t win. Honestly, everyone is thinking ‘Webby is just saying this’ but you will lose games if you look too far ahead. We want to win, so why would we do that?Andrew Webster
This Friday the Warriors head to the Gold Coast to play the Titans in their second to last regular season game on Australian soil, with their next three being held in New Zealand before they finish up with the Dolphins in Brisbane in Round 27.
Match: Titans v Warriors
Round 23 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Excitement around the Kiwi club is building on both sides of the Tasman and for good reason.
The last time the Warriors went into Round 23 as high as third on the ladder was 2002 – the year they made their first Grand Final appearance – and in the 21 years since, they’ve approached this part of the season sitting in the top eight just seven times.
But there is no hint of self-applause starting at Warriors HQ, with the players and Webster certain they still aren’t playing their style well enough to get to where they want to be.
“There is obviously a good buzz around New Zealand at the moment and even when we go overseas the fans are really soaking up how well the team is playing,” fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad said.
We are in good stead, we’ve set our season up really well… but really, we haven’t achieved anything, we are just in the top four at the moment.Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
“Holding up the big one at the end of the year, that’s an achievement for us, that’s the achievement, that’s success, isn’t it?”