Rugby league: Fresh approach has New Zealand Warriors veteran buzzing ahead of 2020 NRL season

NZ Warriors fans will get a glimpse of what the future may look like at the NRL Nines in Perth this weekend. 

Some sweeping changes, driven by the players, have taken place during the pre-season, after a frustrating 2019. 

"We had a number of narrow losses and a draw," said coach Stephen Kearney. "I think we only got away from a couple of teams - stuff like that - it starts to take its toll on confidence."

After finishing a disappointing 13th, the players have taken it upon themselves to right those wrongs with a fresh approach. 

Senior forward Adam Blair is excited about the reaction from coaches and delighted with the results on the training pitch.

Blair told Newshub of a new, high-tempo plan of attack - similar to Warriors sides of the past. 

"We sat down as a playing group and put it forward to the coaches, and they really actioned what we wanted," Blair said. "I think it's been the most exciting and enjoyable pre-season I've had for a long time."

Kearney has plenty of enthusiastic young blood in the wider squad he will unleash at the Nines in Western Australia this weekend.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at Warriors training
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at Warriors training. Photo credit: Photosport

Only six regular first-graders have been selected, so the tournament provides a chance for some youthful fringe players to show what they have learned in the pre-season. 

"They're jumping straight into the opportunity to play against some other players," Kearney said. "We've only played against ourselves for the past three months." 

Twenty-one-year-old lock Isaiah Papali'i has been named captain, as the side's new attitude gets put to the test for the first time under the leadership of the highly talented youngster.

But veterans like Blair know, regardless of what the Warriors put on show this weekend, the results that count come from round one of the NRL season proper next month. 

"It looks good at the moment," said Blair. "But again, we won't know until we're out on the field, playing a proper competition team."

The early signs are good, but the Warriors know there's still plenty of work to do.