FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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New Zealand Warriors coach Daniel Anderson is confident his team have sorted out any "frame of mind" problems with their defence that may have cost them in recent games.
The fourth-placed Warriors have only lost four of their 16 National Rugby League games this season, but two of those losses were in the past three games.
On Sunday they take on sixth-placed Parramatta Eels at Ericsson Stadium in Auckland, after coming off a bye last week.
"People are saying `you lost to the Dragons and Cronulla', but we beat the Broncos in between that at the Broncos," Anderson said.
"It's all about frame of mind, I think, because technically we're pretty sound.
"We've definitely got the attacking prowess to score points, defence is how you are in your frame of mind.
"We were a little bit sloppy in the past month, but the bye energises you a bit more."
The Warriors were now in "pretty good shape", with many players having recovered from niggling injuries.
"We'll be a lot fresher this time."
Anderson said that while the Warriors still had a good chance of a top four spot leading into the play-offs, he hoped the team's fans were "tempering" their expectations.
"There are going to be hiccups and it's better not to get on the bashing the Warriors bandwagon.
"It irks me a little bit. Whenever we lose people say it's back to the bad old days. I don't think that's true.
"When the Warriors lose in 2002 people are more disappointed than in the past because the expectation's gone up.
"They expect us to win every week.
"We expect to win every week. Don't think we don't go out there expecting to win.
"Expectation's up, excitement's up, we've got to temper it all a little bit."
Part of the reason for the Warriors' success this year was that many players had "grown up mentally", he said.
"That is making us a little bit more of a smarter team."
For next season the Warriors were looking to find two more players - a centre/outside back and a back-row forward.
"We're looking everywhere and anywhere, and that includes locals," Anderson said.
Speculation about who the Warriors might be targeting had been rife, but the team was not looking at anyone in particular for now.
"We have only really aggressively chased one or two players, and we missed them," he said.
That was because other clubs had paid more money.
"We're now more than likely to just sit back and wait and see what happens."
He was "absolutely rapt" at the "outstanding, talented young footballers" coming through in Auckland.
"I can see a time when the Warriors are like the Broncos and Newcastle, and rarely shop outside their own back door."
For next season the Warriors had signed two young Aucklanders, and one newcomer from the West Coast and Nelson area.
"These are local boys. They have played in New Zealand all their lives, and they can play in the NRL," he said.
"There's a whole heap lined up behind these boys ready to jump in as well."