Memo from Mamo: I'm keen to play out the year
Rookie Knights winger Jake Mamo is making life hard for the coaching staff up in Newcastle, and it's not because he is running amok at the local King Street Hotel.
No, the headaches Mamo is causing are good ones. Leaving Wayne Bennett and Co at ease with the knowledge they have exceptional cover for instances when wingers James McManus and Akuila Uate are injured, a situation that the Knights are currently faced with now.
With McManus at the very least looking like spending another week on the sidelines with a foot injury, Mamo has hopes to play out the remainder of the regular season in first grade before returning to the Holden Cup for finals football.
"That would be the goal to play the next six games, hopefully I can get that. I don't want to say that to James because I hope his injury isn't too bad, but I'd love to play the remaining games in the season," Mamo told NRL.com.
"I just want to get as much experience as possible and stay consistent with no errors and pretty much do the my job the best I can, and keep getting picked if the spot is there."
It's been a whirlwind start to Mamo's NRL career. Only six weeks ago the 20-year-old rookie was well and truly bombarded by the Roosters in their 29-12 win over the struggling Knights. Yet fast-forward to this past week against the same team and it was Mamo who turned out to be the most experienced of the Newcastle back three with the Mata'utia brothers making their debuts as the Knights prevailed 16-12.
The trio will again combine to take on South Sydney on Sunday afternoon in Cairns, but Mamo scoffs at the idea of being the veteran at the back despite a calm and confident display in Friday's shock win over the reigning premiers.
"It's taken a while to get the first win but I'm just happy to be playing with Sione and Chanel [Mata'utia] on their debuts. They stood up and had good games," Mamo said.
"You could say that I am the most experienced, but I definitely don't feel it being only six games into my career. The Roosters did pepper me in that first game however long ago it was and they do make it tough but I'm always expecting the same and it happened again [on Friday night]".
While the Knights have been criticised in the past over their junior development, the debuts of South Newcastle juniors the Mata'utia brothers and the rise of Mamo from the Entrance Tigers through to SG Ball is a small victory for the club, and it certainly paid off when Mamo made his debut against the Broncos in Round 7 this season.
Mamo, a Knights fan his entire life thanks to his grandparents, was afforded the opportunity to train with the NRL squad in the pre-season and while it has seen him grow in leaps and bounds, he doesn't deny he was intimidated at first by Bennett.
"Wayne has this aurora around him and I came in around November last year and just being around him and also all the experienced players as well has been a bit surreal, and you learn so much from them," Mamo said.
"I was intimidated by him initially, definitely. It is a bit scary standing around him and thinking Wayne Bennett is over there and I'm like, 'Whoa, what am I doing here?' But you warm to him really quickly and he's a real people person."
After suffering a mid-season back injury that saw him switch from fullback to winger in the under-20s, the pocket rocket is now back to full fitness and is aiming to make it extremely hard for McManus and Uate to force their way back into the team when they return from the casualty ward.