NRL: New NZ Warriors coach Andrew Webster stamping his mark on Kiwi club before homecoming season

NZ Warriors coach Andrew Webster cuts a relaxed figure, as he patrols another of their intense but seemingly enjoyable pre-season sessions. 

After previously serving at the Warriors as an assistant, the 41-year-old knows all too well the pressure that comes with the top job and how much the club means to its fans, who are desperate for success more than ever in their homecoming season. 

If we're being honest, no club ever has anything but a great pre-season have they? Of course, Webster's side is no different in 2023.

For the new boss and the Warriors after their turbulent recent past, getting everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction has been the focus since he took over.

"The thing about this team is no-one is entitled," Webster told a large group of media, the biggest turnout in a long time, hinting at the rejuvenated interest around the club. 

"No-one's guaranteed their spot. I'm not even guaranteed I get to park where I want, I park where I'm told. 

"We've all got to buy in. There's no sense of entitlement."

Coming from the back-to-back premiership-winning Penrith Panthers, Webster knows what works and what doesn't, but he also knows not one size fits all in the cutthroat competition that is the NRL.

"There are certain things that you fix your mindset on and that's things that always make you win - the fundamentals, the things that are so important, the things that stack up no matter what NRL club you're at," he said. "There's [also] things you've gotta be able to move with and adjust [to]." 

The other thing? Competition... Webster loves competition. 

"Everyone's driving it," he explained. "All the staff, all the players. 

"You can't turn up week one, win or lose, hop in the sheds and go, 'Boys we're not competitive enough, we need to start trying'.

"It's a habit you need to learn, there's a winner and there's a loser, someone's disappointed and someone's happy. 

Webster previously worked at the Warriors as an assistant to Andrew McFadden.
Webster previously worked at the Warriors as an assistant to Andrew McFadden. Photo credit: Getty Images

"You put yourself in those scenarios as often as possible. If they've got a speed drill where they've got to run against each other, who's going to win, who's going to celebrate it and who's going to be the loser."

That competition is clearly being embraced to the point Webster walks past the waiting media to say: "You'll get some good stuff here, they're going to get competitive now."

It's a refreshing approach, but the onus is on the players. 

"I think everyone has to lead," Webster continued. "I tell the boys all the time, you don't have to be in a leadership group to lead, so if you want to be a pivotal player and you've got as much experience as those guys, you need to be talkers." 

There are plenty of those. The new signings on their own come with plenty of experience and pedigree. 

Dylan Walker won a title with South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2014, while Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was instrumental in Canberra Raiders' run to the 2019 Grand Final. 

Marata Niukore was a key figure in Parramatta Eels' recent rise and is a staple in the NZ Kiwis side, while Te Maire Martin is a success story in his own right, after his return to Brisbane Broncos last year from a brain bleed. 

Andrew Webster.
Andrew Webster. Photo credit: Photosport

But Webster reminds media, again, no-one is entitled to anything - and no-one has been handed days off or an easy ride in pre-season. 

"You lead by your actions," he insisted. "Those guys, we want them in everything.

"You've got to look after them at the right time, but now's not the right time. We've got to go, we need as many reps with each other [as possible].

"We need reps and combinations, and time together."