NRL: NZ Warriors coach Andrew Webster unpanicked by winless start to season

Four days on, Andrew Webster admits the wounds from Saturday's heart-shattering defeat to the Storm in Melbourne are still tender.

Storm wing Xavier Coates' acrobatic finish in the corner instantly became the early frontrunner for NRL try of the season, with the context he executed it in - stealing victory to maintain their mammoth win streak against the Warriors - only adding to its mystique.

Coates' heroics were the talk of round two, and Webster says he's taking no solace in his side's involvement in the most captivating contest of the early season to date.

In fact, losing in such a fashion, he says, makes it that much worse.

"It hurts more," Webster said.  

"We shouldn't have been in that situation to begin with. It was a freakish try. It's hard to feel happy for them and appreciate how amazing that that moment was.  

"But at the same time, we look at ourselves every week and we shouldn't put ourselves in that situation. I'm just looking forward to getting rid of that yuck feeling from the weekend.  

"I just feel for the boys - put so much effort in and didn't get the result."

The Warriors after last weekend's devastating loss.
The Warriors after last weekend's devastating loss. Photo credit: Getty Images

While the raw numbers - an 0-2 start on the back of last year's transformative campaign - make for bleak reading, Webster still believes there's plenty to like in what the Warriors have produced on the field to date.

While they've been let down by 20-minute spurts of indiscipline and inaccuracy, they've showcased flashes of the quality that saw them rise to the top of the competition last year and plenty of the same heart. Case in point, their fight back from an 18-6 halftime deficit at AAMI Park last weekend.

As far as Webster is concerned, the Warriors at their peak have been as good as any other side in the competition.

"I think our best football is better than most in the NRL, which I'm really happy about," he noted.  

"But we all know it's not there for 80, so we've got to get that right. I feel definitely we're closer. We did it for long periods and built a lot of pressure on the Melbourne Storm. They're a good footy side so if we do it for longer we'll get what we want. But I think that 80-minute performance is closer.  

"I keep saying that we're consistent in the way we look at it, and we've got to be honest with parts of our game and celebrate the parts that were amazing.  

"I genuinely think our best footy is some of the best footy in the NRL right now, but we're just not doing it long enough."

There's certainly no hint of panic from Webster, who's experienced enough to realise the NRL season is a marathon, not a sprint.

That sense of composure is reflected in his selections against Canberra Raiders this weekend, with Wayde Egan's return from injury to replace Freddy Lussick in the No.9 jersey the only change to the starting side from last weekend.

The Australian hooker was a late scratch against the Storm due to an elbow injury and while he's no lock to be ready against the Raiders, Webster says the early signs are positive.

"[Egan's injury] is a lot better," he said. "He trained today, so that was good.  

"We won't give away too many secrets but he's a step closer this week."

The Warriors are yet to field their full complement this season but Webster notes both fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and forward Marata Niukore are on track for availability next week against Newcastle Knights.

Their immediate challenge lies with the Raiders, who are one of five undefeated teams and sit atop the NRL standings by virtue of their points differential.

Ricky Stuart's side have been playing a highly effective brand of mistake-free rugby league, and Webster admits his team will need to lift another level to avoid an 0-3 start in front a sold-out crowd at Christchurch's Apollo Projects Stadium.

The Warriors have played eight matches in the Garden City in their near 30-year history, but Friday will mark their first official 'home' game in Ōtautahi.

"They've just competed on everything," Webster said.  

"I think they're first for kicks, first for tries... I think they're the best in the NRL for completions at the moment, so they know how to play early rounds football and we've got to be prepared for that.  

"I think every single one of their players is hard to tackle, so we're going to have to bring our best defensive game, and there's offload and threat everywhere.

"We're playing a really good side and that's the challenge. We want to play good teams every week."

Join Newshub at 8pm Friday for live updates of the Warriors v Raiders NRL clash