Warriors legend Stacey Jones has urged the club not to panic and sack coach Andrew McFadden if his NRL team fail to meet lofty pre-season expectations.
McFadden is under intense pressure to produce early success in Auckland with a star-studded roster, bolstered by New Zealand internationals Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke joining Shaun Johnson.
Jones admits anticipation of a premiership tilt is furiously building at home.
“There’s a lot of expectation back home, and rightly so,” Jones told AAP.
“The club has under-performed on the field the last few years and there’s too many good footy players there to suggest that we shouldn’t be in the playoffs at the end of the season.”
The additions of Tuivasa-Sheck and Luke are likely to take pressure off the mercurial Johnson, however Jones warns it could take some time for the new combinations to click.
“Yes, they may have played in internationals for the Kiwis together, but the week in, week out of the NRL is different. They’ve got to adjust their games to play together,” he said.
A full-strength Warriors outfit suffered a 36-point loss to St George-Illawarra in their final pre-season trial, prompting many to predict McFadden wouldn’t survive another heavy defeat.
And Jones, who played 261 games for the club from 1995-2009, conceded the third-year coach was in the hot seat, but he also had the backing of the entire staff.
“We have under-performed in the last couple of years, but the rest of our coaches have a lot of confidence in Andrew McFadden,” he said.
Crucially, the Kiwi legend pleaded for the former Canberra halfback to be given time.
“Everyone needs a strong start but, if it doesn’t happen, I’m sure he’ll turn it around,” Jones said.
“The Cowboys lost 3-4 games in a row last year and then went on to do good things.
“I just hope if it doesn’t gel straight away, that there can be some patience there, because there’s too many good players and we’ve got a very good head coach leading the way.”
Jones, in the second year as the club’s NSW Cup mentor and also guided their 2014 under-20s premiership success, shied away from desiring a shot at coaching first grade.
“This is a good limit for me as far as coaching goes,” he said.
“Dealing with a group of NRL players, under-20s, and local players who work all day, I’m just here to provide a good environment. This is good for me and I have no desire to coach in the NRL.”