NRL: NZ Warriors new recruits challenged to continue strong start to season as wounded Sydney Roosters loom

NZ Warriors' new recruits may have stood out in last week's season-opening victory over Newcastle Knights, but the challenge is doing it again when the Kiwi club travel to face Sydney Roosters.

Last Friday, in their NRL season opener, a total of six new faces ran out for the first time in a Warriors jersey.

Five-eighth Te Maire Martin, centre Brayden Wiliame, utility Dylan Walker and forwards Mitchell Barnett, Marata Niukore and Jackson Ford all played their part as the Warriors opened their season with a 20-12 victory.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad celebrates.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad celebrates. Photo credit: Photosport

Naturally, confidence within the team since defeating the Knights is high.

While coach Andrew Webster has stated the need to see the team improve at the start of each half, an unchanged matchday side has been named for the Warriors' trip to Sydney.

For the players already at the club, especially throughout the COVID-19-affected seasons, the new arrivals are a huge boost into the new season.

In the likes of Niukore and Martin in particular, the Warriors can now rely on star, and most importantly local players - coming after the club had been accused of lacking a Kiwi identity that reflects its fanbase.

But for prop Bunty Afoa, the way the new players accounted for themselves last week gives confidence of the start of the turn of the tide.

Now, the next challenge is to do it consistently.

"I think it was all the debutants," said Afoa. "I got to play alongside big Barny [Barnett], Walker, Te Maire, and Bray [Wiliame] out in the centres.

"A lot of the debutants played really well and made the jersey proud. They held their weight, and the way they performed was awesome.

"The tough thing is about backing it up again. I've got full confidence in them that they're going to do their jobs this week." 

Next, the Warriors have their work cut out for them, against a Roosters side looking to bounce back after an embarrassing start to the season.

The usual premiership contenders dropped their first match of 2023 in embarrassing fashion, falling to expansion outfit Redcliffe Dolphins.

For Afoa, though, the Roosters' opening loss doesn't detract from the challenge at hand this week.

"The Roosters are a well known team," he continued. "They always set that platform as a top four team.

"That's where we want to be, consistently. We know it's going to be a tough week.

"For us, we've just got to focus on ourselves, and prepare well."

Join Newshub at 5pm Saturday for live updates of the Warriors v Roosters NRL clash.