New Warriors coach Nathan Brown claims his NRL team’s pre-season split could benefit them and he’s confident they’re better prepared for life away from home in 2021.
The Warriors’ squad have been reunited in Tamworth for the past fortnight, after border closures caused separate pre-Christmas camps on either side of the Tasman.
That saw around a dozen players – including most recruits – train under assistants Craig Hodges and Justin Morgan in Kiama, NSW, while Brown led the New Zealand-based players in Auckland.
Brown is the first to admit the enforced situation created challenges, but believes the more tailored training for the smaller groups could help.
“We decided to go down a path where we felt we could get an advantage out of the situation and make it a positive,” Brown said.
“Sure the combinations might not be quite where they would be if we’d trained before Christmas.
“But we got to put a lot of time into some other areas … We probably used a little bit more individual preparation.
“One of the best things for all playing groups as individuals is getting their core skills right.”
Working in the Warriors’ favour is that their spine is likely to be largely unchanged in 2021, with the majority of changes in the forward pack.
Addin Fonua-Blake, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Kane Evans arrived to boost the pack, while Bunty Afoa and Leeson Ah Mau are fit again.
The Warriors have been in camp in Tamworth since January 3, before families fly over to join them on the Central Coast next month.
They will have Terrigal as their base for at least the first four rounds, hoping that a possible travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is introduced at some point in the season.
There is also the chance they will have far more freedom in camp in 2021, with the NRL working to ensure club bubbles are not in place this season.
Brown believes that should make life easier than it was for last year’s depleted squad who showed great character to somehow remain in finals contention for longer than seven other teams.
“For most players being at the Central Coast and staying at the beach, it’s a great life experience if you can have your family with you,” Brown said.
“The initial period last year there was a lot of uncertainty and no families whereas this year there’s more certainty and families can join their loved ones.
“The experience the club got out of 2020 can help this year be a little bit more positive.”