Maumalo relieved to stay at Warriors
This time last month Ken Maumalo was rumoured to be considering a mid-season move away from Auckland, but this week he penned a new deal with the Warriors through until the end of 2018.
The contract extension comes after Maumalo's starring role for the Warriors in last Sunday's 12-10 victory over the Roosters, in which he carried the ball 19 times for 183 metres from the left wing. That despite being sin-binned midway through the first half.
After spending the first half of the season behind Manu Vatuvei, Jonathan Wright and David Fusitu'a in the pecking order for wing spots, 21-year-old Maumalo said he was happy to remain with his hometown club.
"[A move to Australia] wasn't that close [to happening], but I am going to stay loyal to the Warriors, I want to play my footy here, so yeah, I'm here," Maumalo said.
"I am happy being here, obviously I came up through the development ranks, this is home to me and I just want to play my footy here.
"I always knew my time would come, it was just up to me whether or not I worked hard or not.
"The mindset at the moment is just to earn my spot, play some consistent footy and just go out there this weekend and do the same thing I did last week."
Maumalo will make his second NRL Telstra Premiership appearance of the year this Saturday against the Sharks, standing in once again for the injured Manu Vatuvei.
Standing at 191cm and tipping the scales at 105kg, Maumalo is almost a like-for-like replacement for Vatuvei in terms of physique, and centre Blake Ayshford said his impact in a grinding contest last week was vital.
"Ken got players' player, so that says enough on its own," Ayshford said.
"All the emotions would have been like a wave for him through the game with getting sin-binned and then coming back on, but the toughness of the bloke, I think he took a hit-up and Dylan Napa got right into him and put him on his back.
"Normally then another bloke will come in and take a hit-up, but Kenny told everyone to beat it and took the next one and I think he got us a penalty.
"To see the big fella do that, that's awesome and gets everyone on the front foot."
Maumalo will face a stern test against the table-topping Sharks, marking up on Valentine Holmes who has 13 line breaks and 12 tries this year.
"I think I am against Holmes and it's going to be a tough match-up, I know he is in some good form at the moment," Maumalo said.
"He played [against me] last year, he is a nippy customer but I just have to try and handle him to the best of my abilities.
"These last few weeks I put a big emphasis on my defence. I always go and see Justin Morgan, our defensive coach, and go and see my video and look at what I need to work on.
"I knew my attack would get me into first grade, it was just my defence that was the problem."