14/04/2024

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns to the NZ Warriors. (Image: One NZ Warriors/X)

The Warriors had a very successful 2023 season, finishing in the top four and making a trip to the preliminary finals. 

Last year

The Warriors under Andrew Webster were keen for the challenge of being a finals team and exceeded the expectations of many. 

Finishing 4th with one of the best tactically offensive schemes in the competition, the Warriors look to build a better year with the signings of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Kurt Capewell, giving the club more veterans and talent that have seamlessly worked together since the Warriors went in that direction. 

Shaun Johnson had an incredible year, being runners-up in the Dally M race, and leading the Warriors to the finals. Despite not playing the Panthers in the first round of the finals, SJ made it back home to play against the Knights in the semi-finals and against the Brisbane Broncos in the prelim finals at Suncorp Stadium.

A healthy Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad saw the Warriors have a solid foundation at fullback, focusing on effort areas and tough carries out of their half.

Addin Founa-Blake will be looking to win a premiership for New Zealand before heading to Cronulla in 2025, who also had a great 2023 campaign.

Wayde Egan has developed into one of the best dummy halves in the competition, being crucially valuable in the middle, especially with his defensive efforts and hustle.

Tohu Harris was the Warriors’ most consistent player, holding it down as the lock forward and contributing to their side-to-side offence.

Squad Changes

Ins: Kurt Capewell (Brisbane Broncos), Chanel Harris-Tavita (personal reasons), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (rugby union)

Outs: Josh Curran (Canterbury Bulldogs), Valingi Kepu (released), Bayley Sironen (Catalans Dragons, Super League), Viliame Vailea (NQ Cowboys), Ronald Volkman (released, injured), Brayden Wiliame (retired)

Track Watch

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is currently injured and won’t see playing time for the first few rounds to start the 2024 season.

Young Warriors fullback Taine Tuaupiki will wear the number one jersey, keeping Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the centre position. 

Kurt Capewell will be the left-side back rower with his arrival, and a bench spot up for grabs with Josh Curran leaving the Warriors to join the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs.

With an impressive pre-season, Luke Metcalf proved his quality next to Shaun Johnson in the trials, who missed out on the finals with an injury during the 2023 season.

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What to Expect

The Warriors have a high ceiling for 2024, not losing major troops and being able to recruit two talented and experienced players is massive after the incredible season they had.

The building blocks that made the club successful last season will return and with any club and their culture, it is about evolving what makes them successful and getting the best out of their players.

Shaun Johnson with Luke Metcalf will spark the offence with Wayde Egan mixing up the short ball, scooting to either side game and finding RTS and Charnze Nickoll-Klokstad out wide and out the back.

If the forwards can take the next level with ball-playing and playing at the line to create constant pressure, the Warriors have success on the right edge and with Roger back, it is going to cause a lot of defences and chaos trying to defend the Warriors’ unconventional offence.

It’s a big year for:

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

It is his first year back in the NRL since late 2021.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck reminded the fans of the sport of how good he is in rugby league. 

After having a short stint in rugby union, the former premiership winner is looking to win a comp playing for New Zealand. With Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad at fullback, Roger can play a roaming centre role that allows the Warriors to attack from anywhere on the field.

The 30-year-old will be looking to achieve an incredible feat with his second stint at the club which would be a cherry on top of what he has achieved in this sport.

Biggest unanswered question?

Who will be the future spine of this club?

With Roger, Te Maire Martin and SJ in their thirties, the Warriors have juniors coming up through the ranks, and with SJ saying he’s not sure when he will retire, we will have to wait to see those guys get consistent play.

Luke Metcalf will turn twenty-five this season, Wayde Egan is twenty-six and with the Warriors releasing Ronald Volkman in the off-season and Chanel Harris-Tevita being an all-around player and coming back after a 12-month gap year, there’s no certainty with the spine of the Warriors in the long term, at least right now, no concrete players that fans can look forward to seeing. 

Coach Index

Andrew Webster – Safe

Starting his second season as the coach, expect Webster to be a coach for the club for a long time, being able to rejuvenate players and having a consistent system in place, as well as bringing in talent and developing the young juniors on the rise to be NRL ready for the club.

Predicted Round 1 Lineup

  1. Taine Tuaupiki
  2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  3. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
  4. Rocco Berry
  5. Marcelo Montoya
  6. Luke Metcalf
  7. Shaun Johnson
  8. Addin Fonua-Blake
  9. Wayde Egan
  10. Marata Nukore
  11. Kurt Capewell
  12. Jackson Ford
  13. Tohu Harris 
  14. Dylan Walker
  15. Mitch Barnett
  16. Bunty Afoa
  17. Jazz Tevaga

Ladder Prediction

Despite losing Josh Curran, the Warriors have added Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Kurt Capewell without losing depth. The Warriors could place anywhere from the top four to the top seven with a solid season.

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