The fun is back at the Warriors but not, they insist, any complacency as they prepare to face NRL opponents trying to rebound from a thumping.
The Sydney Roosters head to Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday sitting second bottom on the ladder and coming off a 46-0 whitewash at the hands of Melbourne.
The Roosters will also be without winger Blake Ferguson and back-rower Aidan Guerra who are on State of Origin duty.
However, they welcome back Kiwis centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall from injury and hard-hitting forward Dylan Napa from suspension.
Star Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson stresses that the Roosters’ record of just three wins this season doesn’t reflect the quality in their ranks.
“I think everyone knows they’re a much better side than where they sit on the table and that’s the way we’re looking at them,” he said.
“They’ve been minor premiers for the last three years. We’re certainly not getting ahead of ourselves.”
The Warriors have endured their own roller-coaster ride.
Since a bye, they have produced big wins over Brisbane and Newcastle, playing with greater freedom and scoring 16 tries.
They started the latest round with only points differential separating them from a spot in the top eight.
Johnson credited coach Andrew McFadden for lifting the atmosphere within the camp after they had gone into the week off having suffered disappointing back-to-back losses.
“`Cappy’ did an amazing job with making the mood feel light and giving us the confidence just to go out and play,” he said.
“The biggest shift for us is not thinking about it too much. It’s just having a simple game plan and going out and using what we’ve got to the best of our ability.”
The Warriors have also been affected by Origin, with prop Jacob Lillyman called up by Queensland to replace the injured Nate Myles.
They will be missing another seasoned campaigner in Manu Vatuvei, who is nursing a hamstring strain.
However, they won’t lose anything in size on the left flank, with Vatuvei’s replacement being another giant winger in Ken Maumalo.
STATS THAT MATTER
* The Warriors lead 19-16 with one draw in overall head-to-head, but the Roosters have won six of the past nine meetings.
* The Roosters have struggled to finish sets this season and their completion rate of 67 per cent is the worst in the NRL.
* Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson has provided 16 line-break assists this year, the equal highest number in the competition.