New Zealand rugby league legend Adam Blair believes the Warriors have addressed a key issue heading into the 2022 season.
Having retired from the NRL in 2020 after three seasons with the Warriors, Blair is still heavily connected with the staff and playing group, and he believes leadership was an area where they fell short last season.
Losing captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck mid-season to rugby union only exacerbated those issues, but Blair says he’s now hearing great things about the direction in which new sole captain Tohu Harris is taking the side ahead of 2022.
“It’s crazy times at the moment with COVID,” Blair said on SENZ Breakfast.
“Over there in Australia, half of our squad have got COVID, same with our staff, so there’s going to be a chance that we lose a fair few of our players leading into games, that’ll be something we have to manage.
“Again, I guess leadership is one of the most important areas that we need to fix up this year with our boys.
“Having the right leaders, Tohu Harris has been around the block, he’s come from Melbourne which have good systems, and i know and what i’ve heard is that he's changed a bit.
“He’s a bit quiet and tends to lead with his actions, but this year I’ve heard that he’s actually voicing his opinions, speaking up … now that he’s captain he has that responsibility.
“I really think that’s a key area for the Warriors.”
One addition that will help with leadership is the acquisition of playmaking veteran Shaun Johnson.
Johnson returns to the club that he started his first-grade career with in 2022, and Blair believes he’s already showing the young squad how to go about things in the off-season.
“As a prime example, (Shaun Johnson) should’ve still been on holiday and not starting (pre-season) until late December,” Blair said.
“But he got on the plane early with Stacey (Jones) and got over there to just get amongst the boys and getting his feet on the ground.
“I know him and Ash Taylor are pushing for those spots in the halves … for Shaun the crucial moments in games, knowing where to be on the field to ice those big moments … we lacked that last year.”
The Warriors kick off their 2022 campaign against St George Illawarra at Sunshine Coast Stadium in Round 1.