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A month spent filling in for Shaun Johnson at training has helped put Luke Metcalf in the driver's seat to partner the veteran in the halves when the new season kicks off next month.

Fresh off his impressive showing in the Warriors' 34-22 win over the Dolphins in the final round of the Pre-Season Challenge, Metcalf told that stepping into the role of dominant playmaker while Johnson battled an ankle injury to start the year has given him a new outlook on playing five-eighth.

The 24-year-old looks to have all but won the race for the No.6 jersey after starting there against the Dolphins and playing the opening 40 minutes alongside Johnson, with incumbent Te Maire Martin instead coming off the bench at half-time.

"I spent some time in the [halfback role] when Shaun got injured and I feel like that sort of opened my eyes up to a few things about what he wants from me," Metcalf told

"Also just how I should be talking to him and how he probably wants me to talk to him and how I should be setting up out the back of shape and things like that. 

"Last year was our first time playing together and we were still getting used to it, but we have worked together on it a lot this pre-season. 

It felt good to get my hands on the ball a bit more and get involved in the kicking game. Kicking is something I've worked pretty hard on.

Luke Metcalf

Metcalf was among his side's top performers against the Dolphins, setting up two tries and putting back-rower Jackson Ford into a couple of gaps close to the line, on an evening in which he commanded plenty of ball down the left edge.

While stopping short of confirming Metcalf had earned the right to start in Round 1, coach Andrew Webster gave a strong hint post-match when he said the win over the Dolphins had "made a few things clearer in certain positions" before adding that he was decided on about 90 percent of his line-up.

For Metcalf it's a stark contrast to the same time last year when he'd just suffered the latest in a string of serious hamstring issues, which ruled him out for the first three months of the season.

""I sat down with Webby and Ballin [Cupples], our head of performance, at the start of the pre-season and just had a really good chat about my body and my mindset and what I needed to change and what I needed to do better," Metcalf said. 

"I have a plan now and I stick to it, because I know when I don't that's when I can expose myself to [physical] risk.

Marcelo Montoya Try

"The more games I play the more confident I get."

Outside of some strong individual performances, which included Roger Tuivasa-Sheck starring at both centre and fullback, the Warriors were guilty of lapses throughout the match and arguably saved their worst for the final half hour when they let the Dolphins score three of their four tries. 

Webster said his side's lack of discipline was also a big concern after they finished the game on the wrong side of a 9-0 penalty count. 

"That [penalty count] was fair, we brought that on ourselves and that's not good enough," Webster said.

Herbie v RTS

"You're not going to win NRL games if you're not disciplined and if you're not playing for 80 minutes, so we're going to have to improve a lot.

"I literally don't have anything else to teach these guys except [to do what we want to do] better. It won't be anything new, it won't be 'oh if we did this a little bit cuter', it won't be x's and o's, it's all about discipline and concentration and that's what we've got to get better at."

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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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