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'Can 100 percent be achieved': Webster confident in rediscovering the Wahs

They’re down on confidence and low on troops but Warriors coach Andrew Webster is ‘100 percent positive’ his side can turn their season around against the Panthers this week.

Injuries to star duo Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck could not have come at a worse time for a Warriors side languishing in 14th position following a fourth-straight loss against the Roosters on Sunday.

But Webster ensured his side will be sticking to their guns ahead of Sunday's clash with the Panthers and remains confident there's still time to rediscover the ‘Wahs’ of 2023.

“It’s the toughest time, confidence is low and we’re not playing the way we want to. We’re not hiding behind it,” Webster told media ahead of Magic Round.

“Are we happy with the way we want to do things? Yes. Are we doing it? No. So I’ve got to get creative, install the confidence and get excited to make these guys excited about doing it.

“I don’t want everyone all nervous and tense about four losses, I want to look at how do we get our identity back, how do we be proud of ourselves and how do we leave the field and everyone says ok that looked like the Warriors tonight.

“But it can’t be done by looking left or looking right or waiting for someone else to do it. The boys have got to take care of their own role and they’ve also got to look after the team’s role.

“And it can be 100 per cent achieved this weekend, definitely.”

Addin Fonua-Blake Try

Several forced changes this week sees Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad called into the halves for the first time since a Warriors NSW Cup match in 2016 while Te Maire Martin takes the reins at halfback and Taine Tuaupiki slots in at fullback.

But Webster firmed that ‘injuries will never be an excuse’ for below-par performances and the 2023 Dally M Coach of the Year is excited to see how a new-look spine can shake things up at Suncorp Stadium.

“We’re not going to come up with lots of fancy plays this week and I don’t mind saying that. We’re going to play to our strengths, not to what Shaun wants to do, it’s going to be to what Charnze, Te Maire and Taine want to do," he said.

“I think Charnze will be great, he’s a big body in the defensive line I can’t wait to see how he goes running the ball at six.

“He didn’t expect it but when I told him he said ‘lets go’ - when he gets excited, that’s what he says so he’s pretty pumped.

“I’m sure he’d rather play fullback but he just does what the team needs, bring something different and he trained well today so he’s excited.

“If you don’t get excited by people’s opportunities then all you do is get worried about the people that aren’t there and we don’t feel like that.”

Webster talks Johnson injury post-match

The Panthers, meanwhile, have injury woes of their own with star halfback Nathan Cleary sidelined for up to eight weeks with a hamstring injury.

As a former assistant coach of the club, Webster knows better than anyone the Panther's pride themselves on their ability to deal with adversity and will be preparing for a strong running game from new haves pairing Jack Cole and Jarome Luai this week.

“What we can’t do, is just assume how it’s going to look this week from them. Because it’s not going to look the same,” he said.

“Cole’s a runner, he’s a really good player and played in the world club challenge. I watched him play against our reserve grade a couple of weeks ago and he’s a really good player.

“Jarome, he can stand up in this situation… I think everyone thinks he can only hang on that left side and that’s all he can do.

“But I saw him as the main man when he played for Samoa in the World Cup and he got them to the final. He can play the role really well.”

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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