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3 hours ago
New captain Steve Price is making a big impression on the New Zealand Warriors as they work to reverse last years dissapointing form.
Price has returned to training missing both the Warriors' trial matches because of a shin splint problem.
Coach Tony Kemp said Price's influence was immediate, with the intensity lifting a notch thanks to the former Bulldogs skipper's presence.
"I tell you what, my jaw was on the ground - the guy's going to be a great asset," said Kemp.
Kemp also praised the contribution of another high-profile signing, Kiwi skipper Ruben Wiki, to the build-up.
He described Wiki and club stalwart Stacey Jones as having been the two best trainers over the summer in their attitude.
"You look at the seniority we have this year that we didn't have last year," he said.
The Warriors open their NRL campaign at home against Manly on March 13 and Kemp said he would have a fair idea of his playing 17 by the end of this week.
"We still have a number of issues to talk about," he said.
"I think there are 20 blokes up for selection."
"We've grown as a club. All the young blokes are stepping up and it's a lot easier for me as a coach when we have players that do that."
The Warriors won both their trials, beating Parramatta 20-10 in New Plymouth a fortnight earlier.
Kemp, who had targeted improved fitness as a prime objective for the off-season, believed the players were in better physical shape than any previous Warrior squad.
"We've seen that in the trials," he said.
"We handled the 40-minute halves last week without a problem."
He added that the Warriors' effort on defence was the most pleasing aspect of the pre-season outings.
They conceded only 16 points over the two games, compared with an average of 29 per match in the NRL last season, when they finished second last in the competition.
On attack, they created a lot of opportunities, although they didn't take advantage of them all.
"There's still a bit of ring rustiness there," Kemp said.
"I'm pretty happy we can get that sorted out in the next two weeks."