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Competition favourites next up for the Warriors

Zion Dayal
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  @Rob Cox/NRL Photos/

It may be a rarity but it is certainly something Kiwis can get used to: the Warriors playing 80 minutes of footy.

The New Zealand based side come off one of their best starts to the season, winning four from four.

A newfound energy and culture change on and off the field seems to be paying off, as the Warriors early season form has caught the league by surprise.

With notable players such as Shaun Johnson, skipper Simon Mannering, and new recruit Gerard Beale all injured for the first four rounds, you'd be struggling to think where they could fit in. 

Former Kiwis coach Frank Endacott has hailed the Warriors training staff for preparing the team for the season.

"I think there has been a culture change. I think the coaches and the players have noticed how fit they are looking. All the credit there should go to the trainer. He has done a wonderful job with them, they are playing the full eighty minutes now, and when a young guy like Mason Lino takes the place of a player like Shaun Johnson and plays as well as he did, it is a real testament to what is going on in the warriors at the moment," Endacott said. 

The Warriors next take on the North Queensland Cowboys, who are tipped heavily as premiership favourites but have yet to send out warning signals, only winning one game. 

"They got embarrassed in their game last week. They are not travelling well, the Cowboys. But they were everyone's favourite at the start of the year to win the championship. So you don’t take that lightly. They will be a tough side to beat," Endacott said.

Saturday's game also marks the first doubleheader in New Zealand. Before the Warriors game, the West Tigers will play the Melbourne Storm at Mount Smart Stadium.

"I think it is wonderful there is a doubleheader. Fans aren’t seeing two good teams play, they are seeing four. I believe they will pack Mt Smart out and put rugby league on the map up in Auckland. It'll be an exciting weekend," Endacott said.

Saturday's doubleheader kicks-off with the West Tigers and Melbourne Storm at 5pm followed by the Warriors and Cowboys at 7:30pm.