FORMER Shellharbour Shark Euan Aitken will be the first to admit his maiden season with the New Zealand Warriors hasn't gone to script.
From injuring his ankle in round one, forcing him to miss more than two months, two suffering two losses from three matches since returning on May 16, it hasn't been an ideal start to his stint with Nathan Brown's side.
But the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs junior is aiming to put all that behind him when his side hosts Melbourne at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday.
"It wasn't ideal getting injured in round one but I'm now happy to be stringing some solid games together for the Warriors," Aitken, who admits his ankle is getting stronger every week, said.
"While injured, I made sure I continued to train as hard as I could, which I always try to do, to ensure my transition back into games was as seamless as could be.
"I feel as those I'm playing well, especially defensively and our combinations are slowly getting there.
"I will be out to keep improving every time I step onto the field, which hopefully translates to some more wins."
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Although they didn't get the two points last match, it marked Aitken's first try for the Warriors club.
"It was obviously a bit of a mixed performance against the Cowboys but it was really nice to get my first try for the club," Aitken, who has just started studying a Masters of Business with Victoria University, said.
"It's a moment I'll always remember but unfortunately we let ourselves down at the start of the game and were forced to fight back.
"It was disappointing to fall just short but we've addressed those issues around game management and making the most of a player advantage, which we will look to fix this week."
Sitting in ninth with a 5-7 record, the next chance for Aitken's side to improve will be against the second-placed Storm.
"We'd obviously like a couple more wins in the bank at this stage of the season and are looking forward to trying to secure another one of Sunday," said the 25-year-old, who admits the whole squad is feeling refreshed after the bye.
"The Storm might be missing a couple of players after Origin but we know it's up to us to perform for the full 80.
"Melbourne has been a great team for years and has an excellent culture, so we know we need to come ready to match their intensity.
"In recent games, we've had too many lapses and those 10-minute periods is what ends up costing us.
"As one of the more experienced players in the group, it's up to me to try and show the way as best I can.
"It's been a point of emphasis this week and I'm confident we can get the job done come Sunday."
"It's imperative we start to string a couple of games together, which is something we haven't been able to do this season," the former NSW Country representative said.
"The one positive is we always seem to bounce back from a loss and hopefully we can improve on that trend and solidify our spot in the eight.
"We've always been a side that can score points but I feel as though our defence has come a long way the past few months and it'll need to keep doing so if we want to achieve our top eight goal - which I'm confident we can."
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