It might still be a month away, but the Vodafone Warrior are already looking forward to their Round Three match against the Manly Sea Eagles in Christchurch on March 30.
Former Kiwi captain Nathan Cayless, who was in Christchurch at the weekend for the match between the Warriors’ Intrust Super Premiership side and the Rockcote Canterbury Bulls to mark the opening of the Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub, said the team remembered fondly last season’s victory and strong local support in the city.
“The Warriors had a great win here last year before a very good crowd and they are hoping for the same result. From talking with them, this is one of the early season highlights.
“This is actually a home game for Manly, and I know they are also looking forward to the weekend. This is a great team-building exercise for them. They can come over here for several days and really bond together.
“For many of the sides in the NRL, they don’t get to travel away from home very often, and if they do it might just be for two nights. Having several days away together helps build chemistry in the team,” he said.
Cayless is a new arrival at the Warriors. He is currently a Kiwis assistant coach and a former World Cup winning captain. He played 38 tests for the Kiwis as well as 259 games for the Parramatta Eels including 217 as skipper.
A key part of Cayless’ job is preparing young players for the NRL.
“The gap between the Intrust Super Premiership competition and the NRL is massive, both physically and mentally. The young players I have already seen are tremendously talented, but talent will only take you a certain way. You have to know how to train, and that is one of my key goals.
“The players need to be self-driven. An NRL player will do everything in their power to be ready for a match. Some young players need to learn this work ethic as they have relied for much of their career on their natural skills, rather than hard work.
“When you are training up to six days a week and sometimes between six and 10 hours a day, you have to be both mentally and physically strong. The NRL is an incredibly physical competition.”