NRL: Bigger, stronger NZ Warriors half Luke Metcalf wants more from 2024 season

With a year and proper pre-season, under his belt with NZ Warriors, Luke Metcalf has done everything he needs to take his game to a new level in 2024.

After signing all the way back in 2021, Metcalf, 24, endured a stop-start season, once he arrived at the Warriors last year.

Despite showing his talent in a pre-season win over Wests Tigers, a hamstring injury kept him on the sidelines until round 13, but once he made his debut, Metcalf didn't look back and is keen to build on his preparation against Wests Tigers on Sunday.

Rocco Berry and Luke Metcalf celebrates.
Rocco Berry and Luke Metcalf celebrates. Photo credit: Photosport

"I feel relly good," he said. "It's probably the longest time out of all my pre-seasons that I've actually trained every session.

"I haven't had to pull out with a little niggle or anything like that. I'm feeling pretty confident with all the reps I've been getting.

"I'm really keen to get out there this week with the boys, and try and put on a good performance."

In 12 games at five-eighth, Metcalf scored six tries and created three more, and arguably proved to be the best partner for Shaun Johnson in the halves. Most telling, of the 12 games Metcalf played, the Warriors won 10.

However, as the Warriors season reached its apex, injury returned to rule Metcalf out of the climax and saw Te Maire Martin don the No.6 jersey for the Auckland side's playoff campaign.

Now ensconced in pre-season training. before the Warriors begin their campaign against Cronulla Sharks on March 8, any injury woes are long gone.

Metcalf will wear the No.7 jersey in the Warriors' first trial match of pre-season against the Tigers at Christchurch.  

As part of a new halves pairing alongside Chanel Harris-Tavita, Metcalf playing at halfback is perhaps an eye to the post-Johnson era at the Warriors.

After committing his own future to the Warriors, coach Andrew Webster is best placed to make that decision, with no shortage of quality options on the books to play in the halves - this season and beyond.

Metcalf is easily the most dynamic of the Warriors' non-Johnson halves options.

With a close to flawless pre-season completed, Webster teases this season could see the best of Metcalf at Mt Smart.

"I think it's going to be a great year for Luke," he said. "The way he's trained has been unbelievable - but I thought that last year.

"I think we'll see him in an organising role this weekend. I'm really excited for him.

"Hopefully, he stays injury free, but he's done everything he can to do that. He's bigger, he's stronger, he's put some weight on.

"He looks like he's ready to go. I'm confident for him."

Luke Metcalf scores for the Warriors.
Luke Metcalf scores for the Warriors. Photo credit: Getty Images

Like the Warriors as a whole, expectation could be the biggest hindrance for the young half over the coming months. More than one quality player at the Warriors has struggled to replicate a breakout season at the second time of asking.

After being restricted to just a dozen appearances in 2023, the man himself says there is still plenty to give. With the lessons of last campaign on board, the Warriors are ready for another bite of the cherry.

"Personally, for me, I was happy with how I went," said Metcalf. "Obviously, there was a lot of stuff left there to be done for myself.

"As a team, we shocked a few people. We're not satisfied with how we finished.

"Being a game away from the Grand Final was pretty heartbreaking, but if we can start really fast this year, it'll put us in good stead.

"We can take a lot of confidence out of last year - hold that, bring it forward with us, but look ahead, so we can hopefully go one step further."