NZ Warriors coach Andrew Webster has praised Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad for his resilience in their NRL season-opening 20-12 win over the Newcastle Knights.
The fullback overcame an early error to produce a standout all-round performance at Wellington in his first game for the club since 2018.
Nicoll-Klokstad scored the go-ahead try, before a critical try-saving tackle to deny Knights star Kalyn Ponga with just over 10 minutes to play.
But his second stint the with Warriors almost got off the worst possible start, after spilling a high ball with his very first touch.
His error led to Ponga putting Lachlan Fitzgibbon over to open the try-scoring inside two minutes of the clash.
However, he would soon put that behind him to produce a heroic showing, often popping up at the right moment on attack and defence.
Webster hailed his fullback’s resilience and his ability to put the mistake behind him and back himself to respond.
“Charnze is just a competitor, for 80 minutes. If you look at his game, he was outstanding,” Webster said post-match.
“Talk about resilience. He drops the ball in the first set and then bounces back to be one of the best players on the field.
“That’s when you know you got a guy who can get rid of that emotion and compete on every play for the rest of the 80 minutes – that’s pretty cool.”
After a slow start, the Warriors found their feet to lead at halftime before the Knights surged ahead shortly after the break against the run of play.
But Nicoll-Klokstad’s score and try-saver helped ease nerves, as Wayde Egan put the result beyond doubt with just six minutes remaining.
Captain Tohu Harris echoed Webster’s comments about Nicoll-Klokstad and believes his actions had a direct impact on the rest of the team.
“It feels a lot different being back home and it’s great we’re able to take these games to different parts of the country,” Harris said.
“There was a huge difference in terms of that resilience, and they want to compete and turn up for each other.
“It’s not going to be perfect all the time, but we have players like Charnze, who turn up in that one moment, that’s a key moment of the game that could’ve flipped the other way.
“We have players that can turn up with an extra effort. That just builds confidence, that builds team resilience, and it’s infectious.
“Players want to do that for each other and that builds overall resilience as well.”
Club debutant Te Maire Martin was another who shone in his first Warriors appearance, with an assured performance guiding them over the line.
Webster saluted the stand-offs outing and believes it’s just the beginning for him.
“I thought he was excellent, Te Maire is just a competitor, he’s just one of those guys that everyone wants to play with him,” Webster said.
“His personality is unbelievable around the group, he’s just had a baby and missed a couple of days of training, and we probably missed a bit of connection with this edge.
“I think you’re going to see some really good stuff from him in attack. I thought he and Brayden [Wiliame] laid on a great try there, just when we were in the arm wrestle in the game, to pull the trigger out the back and nail their assignment,” Webster said, adding he thinks Martin’s “going to be really important for us, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Te Maire in a long time”.