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Webster hails leaders after Warriors' Magic Round boilover

Their halfback played most of the game with a suspected broken finger, a hooker with less than 20 minutes of NRL experience had to get through over an hour on the field and the fullback risked missing the birth of his first child in order to take his place in the side. 

For those reasons and plenty more, the Warriors’ 22-20 victory over the Panthers on Sunday, which ended a six-game winless run that threatened to derail their season ahead of Magic Round, will be remembered as one of the gutsiest efforts in club history.

While few could have predicted the result given the Warriors’ recent run of form and the absence of nine frontline players, coach Andrew Webster said the signs were there during the week that his side was primed to turned things around at Suncorp Stadium. 

“There was a lot of belief in what we wanted to do this week. What happened during the week and the way the boys were and [how they] focused… so many leaders stood up this week and wanted to own what we wanted to do,” Webster said.

From the field: Martin

“We saw the reflection of it [Sunday]. 

“We haven’t crossed out anything we have done in our pre-season, we haven’t said we need to change the world, we re-focused on what was most important for us this week and our leaders did that for us.

“It wasn’t coming from the staff; it was coming from the players and I am so proud about that.

We beat a really good side and I was happy the way we went about it. Just so tough and resilient and they just cared so much about making sure we did what we wanted to do.

Andrew Webster

With hooker Wayde Egan ruled out after 12 minutes due to a head knock, Paul Roache was required to play the remainder of the game at hooker in his third appearance at NRL level and came up with 37 tackles. 

Both Jackson Ford and Marcelo Montoya also spent time off the field for head injury assessments, while halfback Te Maire Martin was going through issues of his own that nobody knew about.

The 28-year-old suffered a suspected broken finger in the opening exchanges but shook it off to lay on two crucial try assists in the second half for Ali Leiataua and Adam Pompey.

Late heroics followed from backup fullback Taine Tuaupiki – who was called into the squad to take the spot of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad who had to move into the halves to replace the injured Shaun Johnson – with his try and conversion 10 minutes from time giving the Warriors the winning edge. 

But the second-year flyer revealed post-match that he easily could have missed the flight to Brisbane altogether, with his partner Kitana due to give birth to the couple's first child any day. 

Warriors v Panthers – Round 11, 2024

"I got a little spray from Webby because although I told him a couple of weeks ago [about the due date], I didn't remind him," Tuaupiki said post-match. 

"She's a trooper, she's been so strong and she could have easily just said 'no, you're not going'. 

"It was pretty surreal... I knew we needed the two points [before I kicked the last conversion], but I just knew that if I stared at the clock I probably would have hyped myself a bit too much. 

"It was exciting to have a cool little moment like that."

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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