Recap of last season
Last year was as poor a year as the Warriors could have imagined. A third consecutive season on the road, a coach who gave up and resigned, rather than relocate to New Zealand, and a team that was one rung from the bottom of the ladder.
The Warriors struggled to string together performances in attack, and when they did, it seemed that it was just a mirage, and the next week would be back to stuttering attack play.
There were also issues with homesickness, and a desire to leave Redcliffe for many players meant the side had little consistency from week to week, always a recipe for disaster.
How they can improve
There's a reason to believe that the Warriors will be better, just by turning up this year. Based properly back in New Zealand, with a coach happy to be there in Andrew Webster, the Warriors should surpass last year's floor.
Consistency, a home base, and a sound game plan are all things that will make a tangible improvement on last year and should push the Warriors back up the ladder.
Having a forward pack filled with new recruits will help too, as Mitch Barnett, Jackson Ford and Marata Niukore will all have an impact, helping the Warriors get on the front foot early in their sets.
INS: Mitchell Barnett (Newcastle Knights), Jackson Ford (St George Illawarra Dragons), Te Maire Martin (Brisbane Broncos), Luke Metcalf (Cronulla Sharks), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Canberra Raiders), Marata Niukore (Parramatta Eels), Dylan Walker (Manly Sea-Eagles), Brayden Wiliame
OUTS: Euan Aitken (Dolphins), Eliesa Katoa (Melbourne Storm), Otukinekina Kepu, Jack Murchie (Parramatta Eels), Ben Murdoch-Masila (St George-Illawarra Dragons), Taniela Otukolo, Aaron Pene (Melbourne Storm), Reece Walsh (Brisbane Broncos)
The Warriors have a new halves pairing, and a halves pairing that has plenty of talent. Shaun Johnson has long been one of the most talented players in the NRL, with his ability to run, kick and pass in any situation, to take advantage of the smallest hole in a defensive line.
Te Maire Martin returned to the NRL in 2022 after initially retiring with a bleed on the brain. His showing for the Broncos in 2022 was enough to encourage the Warriors to sign him to join them for three years. Before his injury, Martin was a gifted ball runner, and there were signs that he would be able to return to that form in the future, after receiving medical clearance before last season.
If Martin can recapture his old form, and Johnson can continue to be himself, the Warriors have a dangerous new combination that could trouble teams with their dynamic ability to carry the ball and straighten the attack.
The Warriors are untested. A young side, with new players together always requires an adjustment period. This Warriors team is on the rebuild, and this year will be a year of growth, but there are no promises that this will be a year that ends with finals.
Coach Andrew Webster is also in his first head coaching role, with questions about the impact that he will have on the team and on a game plan that stuttered for much of last year.
Defensively, the Warriors were not convincing last year, and if Webster can't bring cohesion to the line, the Warriors will struggle to stay in games and make progress. Whether he can do so in his first year will be determined soon.
Viliami Vailea is entering his third season, after making his debut in 2021, and will be looking to stamp his authority as a centre. Given that he has re-signed until the end of 2025, the Warriors will hope he can too.
While the centre position is stacked, with Vailea competing with Marcelo Montoya, Adam Pompey, Rocco Berry and Brayden Wiliame, there will be high hopes that Vailea shows his barnstorming running ability, and the tackling skills from his rugby union days as a junior, and can become a dominant force.
If Vailea can make that leap, it will go a long way to providing consistent attack and defence that Webster will be relying on, and Vailea could be a foundational piece of this rebuild.
The Warriors have some red flags in their depth and new combinations all over the field. A big off-season recruiting drive has given the team a new look, but the new look will probably take time to settle and take shape.
Combine that with new leadership, and a new plan, and there are too many question marks to make you think that this is the year that the Warriors take a huge leap up the ladder.
Expect growth, but it may not show on the ladder just yet, as the Warriors continue to find their feet.
Ladder Position: 15th