NRL 2020: Warriors coach Stephen Kearney refuses to blame Australian isolation for Raiders defeat

NZ Warriors coach Stephen Kearney refuses to blame a drama-filled week for his side's 20-6 loss to the Canberra Raiders on Saturday, but concedes the situation could "potentially" be affecting some of his players.

Kearney's men remain winless this season and are bottom of the standings, after two disappointing outings.

But the past week has arguably been the toughest in club history, with the team forced to remain in Australia, due to the coronavirus pandemic and new border restrictions locking out family members who were non-residents.

Players learnt of the news after their 20-0 defeat to the Newcastle Knights last week and that form carried over to their 'home' match against the Raiders on the Gold Coast.

The Warriors have leaked 40 points in those two games, while scoring just one try - a Kodi Nikorima penalty try. 

But the Warriors should've scored more, especially against the Raiders. They had their chances early against the 'Green Machine', but a couple of dropped balls in the red zone prevented them from building any pressure.

Despite the circumstances, Kearney said his team's current situation would never be used as an excuse. 

"It's been a challenge, certainly at the start of the week and adjusting to circumstance," he said. "We have to look at the performance today and that's no excuse for some of those errors.

"We have to make sure we keep ourselves in the frame of mind of being better - that's important - and working this week with a shortish turnaround.

"There's a couple of things not quite working for us at the moment. We need to make a couple of adjustments, particularly when we've got the footy, that I think will help our attack.

"They're not major adjustments, but just a couple of adjustments we can make during the week." 

Although Kearney wouldn't use isolation in Australia as an excuse, he did feel some of the senior players have been affected by the change in circumstances. 

"Potentially… potentially," Kearney said, asked if the isolation was having a flow-on effect with his side's football. "Adam [Blair] will be the first one to say that he doesn't normally make those sorts of errors.

"We've been checking in with the boys every day. We have to try and keep ourselves in the frame of mind that we want to get better."

On Friday, Warriors chief executive Cameron George said the club had committed to staying in the NRL for as long as it took. 

When asked how long the current set-up was sustainable for, Kearney replied: "How long is the season?

"If I'm honest, we're in it until whatever happens, happens. We're committed to it.

"This week, we've got Manly. I know it's a cliché, but we’re taking it a week at a time.

Kodi Nikorima.
Kodi Nikorima. Photo credit: Photosport

"With that comes, 'Okay, what’s important for us tomorrow'. We've got a review tomorrow and training on Monday in preparation for our game against Manly.

"I can't tell you what’s going to happen in a month's time and two weeks' time. Everything's changing that quickly.

"We're committed to the NRL and we're committed to improving our performance on today."

The Warriors have a few injury concerns, with Lachlan Burr leaving the field with a head knock, while Adam Blair and skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck picked up minor niggles. 

Kearney was unsure of the trio's status, but with the Warriors unable to bring players over from New Zealand, there are slim pickings if any player is ruled out injured. 

"Personnel? Have you got someone who can play?" Kearney joked. "We've got them, but we can't use them."

The Warriors will have to wait at least another week, until reinforcements Agnatius Paasi, Gerard Beale, Patrick Herbert, Josh Curran and Jazz Tevaga have completed their 14-days of self-isolation, and can join the team in camp.

Join us for live updates of the Warriors v Manly Sea Eagles clash at 8pm Friday