Patience has paid off for young outside back Ken Maumalo but he knows there is plenty of competition for the spot he now holds in the Warriors’ line-up.
Injury to another giant wing, veteran Manu Vatuvei, gave him the chance to make his first NRL appearance of the season against the Sydney Roosters.
Despite a first-half sin-binning for a professional foul, the 1.91m, 105kg Maumalo gave the Warriors plenty of go-forward in Auckland last weekend.
He racked up a game-high 183m in the home side’s 12-10 win and the performance earned him the players’ player award.
As Vatuvei continues to get over a hamstring strain, Maumalo has kept the No.5 jersey for the trip to the table-topping Cronulla Sharks on Saturday.
While there are other wing options like Jonathan Wright and Matthew Allwood also competing for selection, Maumalo says he’s worrying only about his performance on the field.
It’s what he did before his call-up against the Roosters as he tried to add to his eight matches from his debut NRL season last year.
Maumalo, who turned 22 last week, was linked with a mid-season move to St George Illawarra but opted to stay with the Warriors.
He admits it was frustrating trying to break back into first-grade.
“Having heaps of outside backs in the club, I just had to bide my time,” he said.
“The main thing was being patient about it. I didn’t panic or get angry. I just had to work hard and I knew the chance would come.”
Of his sin-binning for taking out Joseph Manu, who was chasing a kick into the in-goal, Maumalo said he tried to keep a cool head after the initial shock of the referee’s decision.
When he went back on, he produced two carries in the next set, bouncing back from a Dylan Napa hit on the first to call for the ball again.
“Being off for 10 minutes, I knew I had to lift the boys somehow.”