New recruit paying back Warriors' faith

Publish Date
Wednesday, 3 April 2024, 10:27AM

By Alex Powell

By Warriors coach Andrew Webster’s own admission, new recruit Kurt Capewell isn’t a player that will ever stand out on a highlight reel.

But if Sunday’s display against the Newcastle Knights is anything to go by, the 30-year-old Queenslander will go a long way to being a fan favourite at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart.

As the Warriors secured their second victory of the season courtesy of the 20-12 win, Capewell without question put in his most significant performance to date at his new side.

In an 80-minute display, Capewell made a game-high 48 tackles, to go with 73 running metres from eight carries, and was named in the NRL’s team of the week as reward.

A year ago, Capewell was a key cog in the Brisbane Broncos side that reached the NRL Grand Final. But the rise of younger forwards like Jordan Riki and Brendan Piakura left him as the odd man out.

Thanks to some quick work by Webster and the Warriors front office, though, Capewell was astutely picked up and didn’t hesitate to relocate to New Zealand.

Now, he has a stranglehold on the Warriors’ No 12 jersey and has played all but 11 minutes of the 2024 season. And while many players struggle to adapt to a new club straight away, Capewell is clear on what his new job entails.

“My role’s pretty simple,” he told the Big League Podcast. “I’ve just got to fit in and slot into the machine.

“The way the team played last year, I’ll mould my game around that.

“I just do my job. I’ll do whatever Shaun tells me. Kick-chase and all that effort stuff. I’ll try to give our middles a rest when I can.

“As you know, they’ve got some impact in them. If I can keep them fresh, it’ll help them out.”

Webster is no stranger to what Capewell is capable of.

In 2021, the duo were both part of the Penrith Panthers side that claimed that year’s NRL Premiership.

That relationship was arguably the key factor in Capewell choosing to relocate to New Zealand - a decision that established players of his ilk rarely make.

Now that they are back in the same ranks, though, Webster makes no secret of exactly what the Warriors have bought.

“He’s not a highlight reel,” said Webster. “But he will get that combination, and he will make line breaks.

“He nearly scored an amazing one [try]. But that’s not his bread and butter - his bread and butter is he won’t be beaten on effort.

“His communication, his talk, and when everyone’s tired, he keeps finding a way. When it’s that grinding game, you want him in your team.”

After dropping their first two matches of 2024, against the Cronulla Sharks and Melbourne Storm respectively, the Warriors are now 2-2, thanks to back-to-back victories.

At the same point 12 months ago, Webster’s side were 3-1, on their way to a top-four finish.

Given how close the NRL is, the Warriors will have their work cut out for them if they’re to have a similar impact on the competition this time around.

For Capewell, though, who’s played in two of the last three Grand Finals, the Warriors are yet to hit top gear.

“In terms of the team and how we’re developing, I think we’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “We’re not a finished product, we’re far from it.

“We can be a lot better in a lot of areas. We’ve got plenty to work on.

“It’s good to have these tough games early in the season, they point out a few things. We’ll work hard, week in, week out and take it one week at a time.

“Hopefully we just keep getting better.”

Since Covid-19, the Warriors have struggled to not only find Australian talent, but retain it.

The likes of Reece Walsh and Matt Lodge both made commitments to live in New Zealand before backtracking for differing reasons.

Former coach Nathan Brown did the same, albeit his exit led to the capture of Webster from the Panthers.

And with the club seeming to have turned a corner under Webster, Capewell looks like he’s in for the long haul.

“I’m loving it, it’s been good,” he said. “We’ve bought a house now, so we’re going to move in this week, settle in and get back to normality in my life.

“It’s been great, the weather’s been great, the people are great. If we can keep winning games like this, happy days.”

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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