4 Mar 2016

Expectations high for Warriors in 2016

2:22 pm on 4 March 2016

Last night the 2016 season kicked off between the Parramatta Eels and the Brisbane Broncos and tomorrow night it's the New Zealand Warriors turn.

Shaun Johnson en route to the tryline for the Warriors against the Bulldogs at the NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park. Saturday 6 February 2016. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz

Shaun Johnson en route to the tryline for the Warriors against the Bulldogs at the NRL Auckland Nines Photo: Photosport

After finishing a disappointing 13th placing in last year's comeptition, there's a lot of expectation on the Warriors to make the playoffs this year.

When Johnson broke his ankle midway through last year the Warriors went from being a top eight contender, that would've guranteed them a spot in the playoffs, to losing eight games on the trot.

But now that's he's back to full fitness Johnson expects his side could finish in the top four for 2016, as long as he finds the form that he's known for.

"If I'm meeting my standards and reaching my goals that I set, coaching staff see that, players see that, then that's all I can ask for.

"There's going to be things along the way that hopefully I can tick off and I don't want to start slow, everyone's expecting me to, to come back from this injury and not be quite the same to start with but I don't want that to be the case. I want to start fast and just play well."

The Warriors managing director Jim Doyle echoed Johnson's expectations.

"The NRL's the toughest competition in the world so therefore you've got to make sure you've got realistic expecations.

We haven't made the finals in the last four years so that's a bare minimum and I would hope that we could push on and hopefully get in a position where we're at least in the top six as we get a home final.

"Our objective ideally would be a top four side but if we could get five or six that would be fine," Doyle said.

With the signings of Kiwis hooker, Issac Luke and 22-year-old Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who's already being touted as league's next best fullback... And the experience of fellow newcomers, Jeff Robson and Blake Ayshford, who bring almost 300 games of NRL experience, you can understand why Doyle's confident.

But while there's been a lot of talk around where the club will finish this season, there's been just as much talk around the club's leadership.

Simon Mannering, the Warriors captain for the past six years, is standing down as captain so he can focus more on developing his individual game.

"I just thought it would be good for someone else to have the job, wouldn't change anything I did for the club, just less committment which is what I was sort of looking for.

"I've got a young family so I want to spend more time with them and yea I'm looking forward to putting that to one side and being able to concentrate on my footy a bit more."

That captaincy torch is being passed on to 32-year-old Ryan Hoffman, who's been with the club for just a season after spending 11 years with the Melbourne Storm.

His captaincy will be put under the pump straight away when the Warriors play their first game against the Wests Tigers in Sydney tomorrow night.