Warriors interim coach Todd Payten has pinpointed who he thinks the Kiwi NRL club should look to work around when they begin their rebuild in the offseason, believing he could be “a 10-year player for us”.
Payten told NZME that rising star Eliesa Katoa is the future of the club.
"He's still learning the game and he works really, really hard. He chases the coaches looking for information from day-to-day,” Payten said.
“He's the first out there and last one to leave on the training paddock.”
Katoa is only eight games into his young NRL career but early numbers indicate he could be a revolution for the club, with the 20-year-old currently averaging 110 running metres, 27 tackles and three tackle breaks per game.
He also has the second-most tries this season for the Warriors, sitting two behind star winger Ken Maumalo’s five.
The Warriors have already taken the first steps to keeping Katoa in New Zealand, with the 20-year-old extending his contract with the club until the end of 2024.
However, Payten says the club should look even further ahead.
"He's a 10-year player for us, no doubt, and I've got high expectations. He'll only get better and better as he grows."
Katoa made headlines earlier this year when he revealed his mother back in Tonga had never watched him play, prompting a local company to donate a TV to his family so they could watch him.
Since then, Katoa has said he’s felt the support from his family.
“It was amazing - I was playing last night and knowing my family was watching me playing,” Katoa told 1 NEWS last month.
“I called my family straight after the game and they were still happy, still pumped.
"I was crying straight away. That was one of my dreams for my mum to watch me play one day.”