Former Cronulla Shark and one-time Brisbane Broncos half Brett Seymour reckons his pre-season at the NZ Warriors so far has been the most demanding ever. And the talented no.7 isn’t alone, with coach Ivan Cleary suggesting that he has intentionally worked the squad hard to get better results early in 2010.
The Warriors’ preseason was turned upside down this time last year, when rising star Sonny Fai tragically drown while trying to save a family member – prior to the 2009 NRL kickoff.
The NZ Warriorsâ€™ get their first hitout this weekend against the Roosters at the Rotorua International Stadium on Saturday. With Ivan Cleary confirming most of the players are eager to just get some game time after intense preseason training.
Cleary has confirmed Seymour will be among the players in action in Rotorua along with fellow off-season signings Jeremy Latimore and James Maloney, exciting prospects Elijah Taylor and Shaun Johnson and new Kiwis Ben Matulino and Kevin Locke. The rest of the squad for the match wonâ€™t be confirmed until closer to the match.
Then next week the Warriors travel to Cairns and head into camp for their 2nd trial against the Cowboys on February 20 before heading back to NZ for their last hit-out against Manly at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday, February 27.
While enduring a disappointing year in 2009, the NZ Warriors have been fortunate to retain a good nucleus of players for 2010. The likes of Wade McKinnon, Steve Price, Brent Tate, Michael Luck and Lance Hohaia.
With new faces Seymour from the Sharks and Lattimore from the Eels joining the ranks, there should be added depth.
The NZ Warriors remain the biggest sleeping giant in the NRL. A single country of support, while they have to contend with strong Rugby Union followings in New Zealand – they should really have a graveyard of a homeground that Australian teams should fear.
While the travel / away game factor may be of concern to teams such as the Warriors and Cowboys; there is just no excuse as to why a squad such as the Warriors – with good talent and a single team in country, should not be near bulletproof in the own backyard.
However, a good early run of wins will bring the Kiwi’s out of the woodwork.
Who knows, if they crack it for an NRL Premiership they would certainly enjoy a mammoth amount of crowd support for the years that follow.