Warriors newcomers drive NRL title quest: Stacey Jones

Warriors legend Stacey Jones says four key recruits have helped put the club in a position to win their maiden NRL title.

Jones was the captain of the Warriors when they made their first grand final in 2002. 

He was interim coach last year when head coach Nathan Brown left the club mid-season and is now an assistant to Andrew Webster.

He has seen players come and go at the Warriors but insists that fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, utility Dylan Walker and forwards Marata Niukore and Mitch Barnett have added wonderful qualities to the Warriors in their move from 15th on the ladder in 2022 to fourth this season.

"Those four guys don’t walk past stuff and they don't take short cuts,” Jones told AAP ahead of the Warriors trip to Penrith for Saturday afternoon’s qualifying final.

“The coach (Webster) has brought a new dimension to the team, and the players we have brought here are really good characters first and foremost and also outstanding footballers.

"Charnze brings real energy to the group. He is always happy and brings massive effort. He always works hard off the ball where he is everywhere.

"He also brings confidence. He came from a club in Canberra that was a top-eight team and made a grand final (in 2019).”

Niukore, formerly with Parramatta, has been an imposing figure in the second-row.

"Marata is a scary guy. I wouldn’t want to be a halfback trying to tackle him,” Jones said.

“He doesn’t say a lot but he brings that physicality and mongrel on the edges that we haven’t had in a long time.”

Walker and Barnett have also impressed Jones.

“Dylan is that guy who can play any position and from the moment he got here from Manly he wanted to make a difference. He didn’t come here to pick up a pay cheque,” Jones said.

“He has got that balance of being a jokester, but also serious. He can play in the middle and still hold his gloves up for a bloke that is not big.

“Mitch Barnett (formerly with Newcastle) brings a defensive mindset and aggressive line speed. He is the one that brings our line forward and the rest of the side follows."

Twenty-one year ago, the Warriors had a versatile and imposing pack that marched to the grand final

“Back in 2002 we had guys like Jerry Seu Seu, Kevin Campion and Awen Guttenbeil and there are similarities in the pack we have now to back then," Jones said.

“Andrew (Webster) has brought a style that suits this group and they have all bought into it, particularly our senior players like Shaun Johnson, Addin Fonua-Blake and Tohu Harris. 

"All the leaders have played good football."

Jones said the club could go all the way and win the premiership.

“Without a doubt,” he said.

“We have put ourselves in a good position. We know how tough this competition is but we will give ourselves every chance.”

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