Warriors great Lauiti'iti is loving the Webster effect

The man who gave the Warriors their reputation as a free-flowing team built on instinct says he’s fallen in love with their methodical approach under Andrew Webster.

Ali Lauiti'iti, who was once dubbed the "Michael Jordan of rugby league" because of his eagerness to offload, says the former Penrith assistant deserves immense credit for breaking records en route to their first finals appearance since 2018.

Former back-rower Lauiti'iti was key in the Warriors’ formative years where offloading football became ingrained in the club’s DNA.

But Webster’s 'Wahs' of 2023 have bucked the trend.

Across this season, they have thrown a league-low 168 offloads - just seven per game - and rank first for one-man hit-ups.

On paper it sounds conservative, but Lauiti'iti said ahead of Saturday’s qualifying final against Penrith that he’s a convert to Webster’s philosophy.

"I think they are playing a really entertaining brand of footy," Lauiti'iti told AAP.

"They shift the ball and do offload but they are smart at picking their times to and use their football.

"I got blown up a few times (by former coach Daniel Anderson) and in this day and age it’s so important because one (bad offload) can be a big momentum changer.

"I think he (Webster) knows how to encourage people to express themselves but keep within a gameplan.

"I think people really appreciate their efforts off the ball, they’ve been so strong in defence all year."

Webster’s tactical blueprint has shattered records throughout this year.

The Warriors have picked up their most wins (16) since 2002 and boast the most frugal defence since 2011, both years in which the club made it through to the grand final.

Lauiti'iti said it wasn’t over the top to suggest the Warriors’ run had begun to rival the All Blacks for popularity.

"The vibe is truly amazing here for us leagies," Lauiti'iti said.

"It’s the most talked about team and the subject in everyone’s chats.

"I’ve heard of rugby union fans jumping on the bandwagon with how well they’re doing.

"People see the effort and how well they are tracking and that doesn’t go unnoticed. Rugby league here is on a high."

Lauiti'iti said the first-year coach deserved praise for leading the club out of the doldrums pointing to off-field manoeuvres, such as bringing in a club chaplain and former fan favourite Jerry Seuseu as a welfare officer, for getting the Warriors back on track.

"You can see how good a coach he is with the way he communicates and he knows which buttons to press with the players," Lauiti'iti added.

"He’s brought in some great initiatives, it’s around the whole club from the owner to the cleaner and the office staff - everyone’s valued and that’s a good thing."

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