2023 NRL Season Preview
20 Feb 2023

2023 New Zealand Warriors NRL Season Preview

It’s been a difficult couple of seasons for the Warriors, mainly thanks to the pandemic. But this season everything changes, as it’s the first full season where they will have home games. Fans will be out in full force each time the Warriors have a home game in New Zealand. But will that be enough to lift them up from where they finished last season, in 15th position?

Recruitment Report

The Warriors squad changes in the off-season were pretty major, and they are one of the teams that have lost the most players, but they also have gained a few key players as well. The key player they have managed to pick up has to be Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. The former Raider was born in New Zealand, so it comes as no surprise he has chosen to go to the Warriors.

There have been a number of losses to the Warriors squad, including star player Reece Walsh, who has moved to the Broncos. They have also released a few players, and Ashley Taylor has retired. All in all, the gains do not really balance out all the losses the Warriors have experienced in the off-season.

Ins: Mitch Barnett, Jackson Ford, Valingi Kepu, Te Maire Martin, Luke Metcalf, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Marata Niukore, Taine Tuaupiki, Dylan Walker and Brayden Wiliame

Outs: Euan Aitken, Daejarn Asi, Lleyton Finau, Jackson Frei, Eliesa Katoa, Matthew Lodge, Dunamis Lui, Jack Murchie, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Kodi Nikorima, Aaron Pene, Pride Petterson-Robati, Junior Ratuva, Ashley Taylor and Reece Walsh

Key Player: Addin Fonua-Blake

While with some teams, you struggle to pick a key player because there are so many to choose from, when it comes to the Warriors, there is the opposite problem. It is difficult to choose a key player in a squad that is slightly underwhelming. Although, out of all the players, Warriors need a good season from Addin Fonua-Blake. If Fonua-Blake can perform at his best, they have a chance to finish near the top eight.

Rising Star: Valingi Kepu

There is a rebuilding stage happening at the Warriors right now, and they will likely give the opportunity to a number of rookies to see how they fare in first grade. Valingi Kepu could be one of those rookies that gets an opportunity to shine. Kepu has signed to the Warriors top 30 squad for the next two seasons, and he already has experience in the Queensland Cup.

5 Key Matches To Watch

Match 1: Round 2, vs Roosters, at Allianz Stadium (Sat, Mar 11, 3pm)

Match 2: Round 8, vs Storm, at AMMI Park (Tue, Apr 25, 7pm)

Match 3: Round 10, vs Panthers, at Suncorp Stadium (Sat, May 6, 3pm)

Match 4: Round 18, vs Eels, at Mt Smart Stadium (Fri, Jun 30, 6pm)

Match 5: Round 20, vs Sharks, at Mt Smart Stadium (Sun, Jul 16, 2pm)

2023 NRL Season Expectations

The Warriors have had a lot of squad movement this off-season, they have had some positive signings, but they have also lost key players, like Reece Walsh. All in all, it looks like they have gone backwards with the squad, and they lack depth, which will be critical in the back half of the season especially, and if there are any injuries. There isn’t much lower the Warriors can go from last season, but they may very well be fighting it out to avoid the wooden spoon.