Rugby league: Accountability and higher standards driving NZ Warriors to NRL success

Belief is growing within the NZ Warriors camp they can beat anyone.

Higher standards and individual accountability are being singled out by several members of the playing staff as confidence grows they are genuine playoff contenders in 2021.

And even with coach Nathan Brown having to dip deeper into his playing stocks as a worrying injury toll mounts, the come from behind win against the Canberra Raiders last week has the side believing that this could be their year. 

The Warrior spirit that embodies the club was on full display in the Australian capital last Saturday, as shown by the efforts of their talisman Roger Tuivasa-Sheck pulling off a match-saving tackle on Jordan Rapana with time expired.

"Some of the stuff that Roger does, some of the stuff that Tohu does, some of the stuff that Addin does, if you're not putting in the same as them it's unacceptable really," reveals new recruit Sean O'Sullivan.

And with that comes accountability. Winger Ken Maumalo admits he hasn't been at his best to start the season and understands he needs to step up to the level of his teammates. 

"I've spoken to some of the boys and they really think that I've started the season off slow which I've taken on personally," Maumalo says.

But his commitment can't be questioned. Maumalo has been playing with a sternum injury since round one.

That resilience is key as they battle injuries to the likes of Pita Hiku, Chanel Harris-Tevita and Euan Aitken.

But coach Nathan Brown doesn't believe the NRL's rule around the 18th man is the way to go to deal with depleted squads.

From round five, teams will be able to use the 18th man if three players go off with head injuries after a brutal weekend where several sides were hampered by multiple HIA incidents.

"I'm not sure what the stats say about head knocks, but I've been coaching for a lot of years and I  haven't coached a game where there have been three head knocks."

A situation like that is a headache Brown and other coaches could do without.