Currently sitting second on the NRL ladder the New Zealand Warriors are proving themselves to be a real competition threat early in the season, with coach Andrew Webster reigniting the side for an early season takeover.
Following their thriller against premiership contenders Cronulla, Shaun Johnson told Fox League his side is proving to be tougher both mentally and physically in the 2023 season.
"We are just so resilient, I love being a part of it and it is just such a good feeling," Johnson said.
“Obviously so much to like, so much to not like but at the end of the day, when you come here, they are a good side bro, they are a good side and just what a feeling.”
Part of a new-look spine for the Warriors Johnson managed an impressive outing with a try, two try assists and even secured the win with the match-winning penalty goal.
Joining the 32-year-old in his turnaround of the club are two more redemption stories of Te Maire Martin and Charnze Nicoll-Klockstad.
Perhaps most important for the side however is skipper Wayde Egan. In his second year at the club, Egan is complementing the halves nicely providing clear direction for the side which hasn't been a mainstay for the Warriors since Issac Luke left the club in 2019.
Martin is proving to be a threat with the ball in hand following his return to the NRL while Nicoll-Klockstad is beginning to regain some of his form that helped the Raiders to a grand final in 2019.
Despite a lack of coaching experience Webster seems to have given the Warriors a sense of resilience they have not had for some years now.
In the past being 20-0 down in the first 15 minutes would have opened up the floodgates for the opposition and the Warriors would collapse for the remainder of the match. But in Round 5 the New Zealand side proved this was no longer the case, making a comeback to an amazing 32-30 win.
Going back to their old successful formula the Warriors look to be playing a much looser style of footy under Webster's command. Rather than replicating other teams, they are finally playing their own dynamic style as they did back when Shaun Johnson led them to a grand final way back in 2011.
The new style of play has allowed for the side to showcase plenty of talent, most notably Jackson Ford. With the Warriors spine adopting a much faster style of play heavily focused on their ball movement this has created the chance for Ford to be a real threat on the left edge.
The Warriors will now look to solidify their spot as one of the X-factors in the league when they take on the Knights on Sunday.