Warriors training sessions and intensity are vastly improved under coach Andrew McFadden says the returning Thomas Leuluai.
Warriors hooker Thomas Leuluai says they are a completely different team under head coach Andrew McFadden.
The Kiwis stalwart will return from a groin injury against the Broncos in Brisbane on Saturday, having watched the Warriors climb nine places to sit sixth on the NRL ladder during his three-month absence.
Under McFadden the Warriors entered the top eight for the first time since July 2012 by upsetting the table-topping Panthers and last week claimed their seventh win in nine games with a 48-0 drubbing of the Eels.
The 36-year-old replaced Matthew Elliott, who parted ways with the club after they lost three of their first five games this season.
“I think the results speak for themselves,” Leuluai said.
“I knew he (McFadden) would turn us around. I’ve always thought of him as a great coach and I think he’s surprised everyone with how quickly he’s done it.”
While star fullback Sam Tomkins is in doubt with a hip injury he sustained at training, the Warriors head to Brisbane on a three-game winning streak and have not lost to the Broncos in as many encounters.
What should also have Anthony Griffin’s side on high alert is that the Warriors are now the best attacking side in the competition with 385 points scored.
McFadden has drawn an average of 26.2 points per game out of the Warriors – six more than Elliott and his predecessor Brian McClennan achieved in two seasons – while their average completion rate has risen by 20 per cent.
Against the Eels, Shaun Johnson converted all eight tries, including one of his own, as the Warriors notched the club’s third biggest ever win and produced one of their most clinical performances in recent years.
“It’s like I signed for a new club mid-season,” Leuluai added.
“The training sessions are a lot more intense. Our attitude on defence is a lot better, too. From when we started training at the beginning of the year until now, it’s completely different.”
The dramatic turnaround has made the Warriors the dark horses in a tight play-off race with seven rounds remaining.
After watching the Broncos fall agonisingly short against the Panthers last week, the Warriors must now prove their class whilst under pressure from a side desperate to break a three-game losing streak.
“Dealing with the expectation is something that we’ve got to learn to do,” McFadden said.
“We’re exactly where we want to be. We want to be talked about but our ability to stay consistent and stay focused on our performance is really going to be key.”