'I can still get better'- Warriors' unsung hero Ken Maumalo promises more ahead of NRL finals

Warriors winger Ken Maumalo has opened up about his improved season in this year's NRL, on track to reach his best ever return for tries in a single campaign.

Maumalo, 24, was an often maligned figure at times during the Warriors' miserable 2017 season, at times looking out of his depth in the number five jersey.

However, through sheer persistence, Maumalo's form on both attack and defence have seen him become one of the first names on the Warriors' team sheet and earning himself a Kiwis debut in the process.

Maumalo has also crossed over for five tries this season, eyeing his best every tally of seven with four regular season matches to be played.

Speaking to NRL.com, Maumalo was quick to credit his teammates for his improved form.

"I feel like just my defensive reads have been a little off next to Sol (centre Solomone Kata). I feel I can really knuckle up on that a bit better and just sticking to my tackles," he said.

"Other than that I think everything is going OK on my edge, the left edge.

"I give big props to Sol and my back row, and Greenie (five-eighth Blake Green), which is helping me play a bit better.

"But I can still get better."

Maumalo also says that the side have to keep improving heading into the end of the regular season, with the Warriors needing at least two wins from their final four games to guarantee a top eight finish.

"Leading into this next block of games we've got to build on our skill.

"If you're willing to go get it, then you'll go get it. I think some weeks we've been on and some weeks we've been off, so it's just a mindset which is leading to that inconsistency stuff."

Maumalo and the Warriors are next in action later tonight, facing off against the Newcastle Knights at Mt Smart Stadium.

Ken Maumalo scores the Warriors first try during the New Zealand Warriors and North Queensland Cowboys NRL Rugby League Telstra Premiership game played at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on April 7th 2018. 

Copyright photo; Peter Meecham/ www.photosport.nz
Ken Maumalo scores the Warriors first try during the New Zealand Warriors and North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland. Source: Photosport


'He is repaying the faith' - David Fusitu'a extends Warriors deal to 2023

David Fusitu'a will become a 10-season Warrior after signing a long-term deal with the NRL club.

The winger has committed to the Auckland club until 2023 after extending his contract for four seasons beyond its original expiry date next year.

He will become the eighth Warriors player to clock up a decade of service after making his debut as a teenager in 2014.

Fusitu'a, who's scored 15 tries this season, is committed for longer than any of his teammates.

The next longest contract is held by skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, until 2022.

Coach Stephen Kearney said it was a priority to retain the hulking right winger, whose diving corner finishes have become a trademark.

"There's no question he has made tremendous progress, especially over the last two seasons. He provides wonderful value for us in all respects," Kearney said.

"He's a player the club has put a lot of work into to develop into a high- quality footballer and he is repaying the faith we have always had in him."

Tongan international Fusitu'a has scored 47 tries in 75 first-grade appearances.

Four doubles this season were followed by a hat-trick against Manly in round 14.

He hasn't scored since but the Warriors hope that will end in Friday's home match against Newcastle, who have conceded 10 tries to Fusitu'a in five games.

Of the Warriors' leading tryscorers, 23-year-old Fusitu'a sits second on the all-time list for strike rate.

His average of won try every 1.59 games is bettered only by Manu Vatuvei's 1.48 games (152 tries in 226 matches).

David Fusitu'a. Vodafone Warriors v St George Dragons, NRL Rugby League. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday 1 May 2016. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Warriors fullback David Fusitu'a takes on the Dragons line in round nine of the NRL at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. Source: Photosport



Sacked Titans coach leading charge to form NRL coach union after Panthers saga

Neil Henry is leading the charge to form the NRL's first coaches association in a bid to help the league's mentors in their high-pressure role.

In the same week Penrith sacked Anthony Griffin with more than two years left on his contract, Sydney Roosters counterpart Trent Robinson revealed plans are under way to support coaches.

Griffin's shock axing is believed to be the first time a coach of a side sitting inside the NRL top eight has been shown the door a month out from the finals.

It comes a year after Des Hasler and Canterbury took more than six months to reach a settlement over his termination payout, despite having two more years on his contract.

Henry himself was forced into legal action to get his own payout from Gold Coast after his dismissal last year.

Robinson has long called for the formation of a coaches union and on Thursday said that moves are afoot to ensure the game's mentors are being formally assisted.

Robinson said there were two main reasons for an association.

"The education of coaches and development of coaches in the way that they are ready to handle the rigours of coaching," he said.

"And also the welfare of coaches. It can be short term or long term but the support of that."

Robinson insisted current coaches, all of whom have ticked off on the association, weren't oblivious to the harsh nature of the industry.

However, he said it was important there were avenues for coaches to receive assistance.

"It's more about the education to get to a coach, and whilst you're a coach, and also the support around the movement of coaches," Robinson said.

"If you're doing your job, then you'll be in it for a long time."

Robinson's comments come as rival coaches sympathised with Griffin, who is left unemployed despite being on the cusp of leading the Panthers to a third-straight finals series.

St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor admitted there had been enough rumours about Griffin's falling out with Panthers boss Phil Gould to suggest unrest.

But he was stunned by the timing, given the Panthers are equal with the Dragons on the ladder on 28 points and considered an outside chance of winning the title.

"It's a surprise considering where they are and the situation they're in," McGregor said.

"But usually when the noise is loud enough around anything, there's more to it.

"And there's more to it."

South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold, who himself has been linked with a move to Brisbane in 2020, re-iterated his intention to see out the final 15 months of his contract at Redfern.

"But like we saw with Anthony Griffin the other day, I'm sure his intention was to see the next two and a bit years out. Things change in the game," he said.

Neil Henry
Neil Henry Source: Photosport