2023 New Zealand Warriors Preview

The Warriors will go into the 2023 NRL season with a new coach and a full season of home fixtures in New Zealand.

Preview

SQUAD

Adam Pompey, Addin Fonua-Blake, Bayley Sironen, Brayden Wiliame, Bunty Afoa, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Dylan Walker, Edward Kosi, Freddy Lussick, Jackson Ford, Jazz Tevaga, Josh Curran, Luke Metcalf, Marata Niukore, Marcelo Montoya, Mitchell Barnett, Rocco Berry, Ronald Volkman, Shaun Johnson, Taine Tuaupiki, Te Maire Martin, Tohu Harris, Tom Ale, Valingi Kepu, Viliami Vailea, Wayde Egan, Ali Leiataua, Demitric Sifakula, Jacob Laban, Zyon Maiu’u. Coach: Andrew Webster.

BEST SEVENTEEN

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Adam Pompey, Marcelo Montoya, Edward Kosi, Te Maire Martin, Shaun Johnson, Addin Fonua-Blake, Wayde Egan, Mitch Barnett, Jackson Ford, Marata Niukore, Tohu Harris, Dylan Walker, Bunty Afoa, Josh Curran, Bayley Sironen.

BEST SIGNING

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Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad: returns to the Warriors after four years with the Canberra Raiders and will make the number one jersey his own. He returns a more experienced player having scored 23 tries in 66 games. While just completing 19 games in the past two seasons because of injury and playing NSW Cup at the end of 2022, he’ll be no Reece Walsh, but Nicoll-Klokstad will be solid and reliable at the back.

KEY PLAYER

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Tohu Harris: the Warriors skipper once again will be a key to his team’s chances in 2023. In his two years as club captain, he’s shown excellent leadership on top of the skillset and passion he already has for the game. Last year his go-forward saw Harris accrue an average of 131 metres per game. If he can inspire the pack to go with him, the Warriors could trouble some of their more fancied opponents.

PLAYER TO WATCH

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Luke Metcalf: the former Sharks and Newtown Jets playmaker has seven games under his belt in the NRL and will benefit from learning footy smarts from Warriors great, Shaun Johnson. In the Knock On Effect NSW Cup he’s scored 23 tries in 26 games and is a notable goalkicker averaging near 80% in last year’s competition.

PREVIEW

A new era has begun in Auckland post-Covid with a new coach, new signings, and optimism that 2023 can be a better year for the New Zealand Warriors.

After a long and strenuous period in Australia which saw Stephen Kearney, Todd Payten, Nathan Brown and Stacey Jones at the helm, Andrew Webster will become the Warriors fifth coach in four years and fifteenth in the franchise’s history.

Relatively untested, Webster will have a host of new players to choose from which includes the return of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dylan Walker, Mitch Barnett and Marata Niukore. Time will tell if Webster like Cameron Ciraldo with the Bulldogs, can transition with them the key ingredients to build a successful club. Returning to a full schedule of home games will reengage the community and hopefully start the post-Covid rebuild.

The last time New Zealand Warriors made the top eight was in 2018 when they started off with five straight wins. Should they be able to emulate that feat, they’d be sitting in a very strong position to make the top 8.

On paper it’s a tough draw as they face the Roosters and Cowboys twice within the first ten rounds before navigating a period from round 18 to 21 where they take on South Sydney, Parramatta, Cronulla, and the Canberra Raiders. Should they be in contention come August, the Warriors have a good run home with matches against the Titans, Tigers, Sea Eagles, Dragons, and Dolphins.

Expect the Warriors to be competitive and hungrier in 2023, but it may be a tall order for rookie coach Webster to guide them to finals footy in his first season at the helm.

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