Warriors boss Stephen Kearney has acknowledged his side’s early-season NRL troubles, saying they have stuttered from game to game.
The Auckland-based side have won just one of three matches to kick off their 2017 season and limply fell 24-12 to the Bulldogs in Dunedin last week.
They’ll now look to get back on track for a first finals berth in six years when they take on the Dragons in Sydney on Sunday.
New boss Kearney admitted his side had lacked playmaking craft and punch through the middle in their losses to Melbourne and the Bulldogs, with the absence of concussed skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck a major blow.
But he backed his troops to turn things around quickly against St George Illawarra, who have surprised many by winning two of their first three games.
“The improvement for us is in the back end of the game – last week it was 12-10 at one stage there and we need to be better,” Kearney said.
“(The Dragons) have certainly changed the way they play the game in the sense that they’re offloading the ball a lot more and look really dangerous.”
Tuivasa-Sheck watched on against the Bulldogs and echoed his coach’s thoughts, saying the side’s forwards and propping quartet lacked bite at key moments.
Although props Albert Vete, Jacob Lillyman, Charlie Gubb and Sam Lisone made a combined 420 metres with ball in hand, the Warriors struggled to secure good field position at times or supply ball to the backs.
The 23-year-old Tuivasa-Sheck, who will return on Sunday, said he and his teammates had pored over video tapes this week, looking for what went wrong.
“When it works, our forwards are strong, and when it doesn’t work, we know the forwards aren’t that strong,” the fullback said.
“We’ve got players like Shaun Johnson, Ata Hingano, maybe Kieran Foran, myself, Tui (Lolohea) at the back – for them to play their footy, the boys at the front need to punch up.”