Warriors captain Tohu Harris says a post-game speech by star half Shaun Johnson has given the players belief that a maiden premiership is achievable next year.
The Warriors lost 42-12 to Brisbane in the preliminary final on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium after finishing 15th last season. They experienced a stunning rise up the NRL ladder under rookie coach Andrew Webster.
Johnson, 33, got the players together in a huddle after the match to remind them about what had been achieved and what was ahead of them.
Harris was asked if the stellar season the Warriors had enjoyed this year was just the start and whether he believed a title was achievable.
"That was part of what Shaun said. What Webby and the coaches have brought into the club, that can set us up," Harris said.
"But the players, we still have to use this to drive us to get better. We weren't good enough tonight.
"We have got it in us to improve and take those steps forward. The structure is there for us to get to the level we want to go to, but we have to put in a lot of work."
Webster is one of the contenders for Dally M coach of the year but his mission in 2024 is to take the Warriors where no mentor has before.
The squad will stay together next year. With a pack boasting Addin Fonua-Blake, Mitch Barnett and Marata Niukore, while Johnson, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Wade Egan have all been outstanding in key spine positions, there is genuine belief that 2023 is indeed just the start for them.
"The football program is in a good position for us to launch something here... to make grand finals and win grand finals. We have to come back hungry for that," Webster said.
"It has to be in our actions and not just words. We will have a break now, freshen up and get back to it and work hard."
Harris said Johnson, with his talk, had also reaffirmed "the pride in the club" and thankfulness for Webster's leadership.
"He was addressing the players' appreciation of what Webby has brought to the club and the staff as a whole. They probably don't hear it enough from us," Harris said.
"He wanted to make sure that they heard it tonight...an appreciation for everything they have done through the year."
Harris's despair at the result at Suncorp Stadium was a reflection of the standards the Warriors have set in 2023.
"I'm disappointed we didn't give ourselves a shot. We didn't defend the way we wanted to and we shot ourselves in the foot," he said.
"The Broncos are a dangerous side. You give a side like too much space or a sniff and they can score from anywhere. I'm disappointed we didn't absorb it and get into that back and forth."
Australian Associated Press