New Warrior Cherrington content to learn
The chance to play NRL Telstra Premiership footy is generally the reason reserve-grade players complete mid-season transfers, but for Manaia Cherrington his move across to the Warriors is completely motivated by the opportunity to learn.
After securing an early release from his one-year deal with the Cronulla Sharks earlier this month, Cherrington returned to his country of birth without any promise of time in first grade.
A look at the club's depth at dummy-half suggests it's not an ideal place for a young No.9 to try force his way into the squad, with Kiwi international Issac Luke the locked-in starter and youngsters Nathaniel Roache, Ata Hingano and Jazz Tevaga all vying for the back-up role on the bench.
But 22-year-old Cherrington told NRL.com that even if he fails to see NRL action in coach Stephen Kearney's side this year, the opportunity to learn off Luke will have made the move worthwhile.
"I haven't really sat down with 'Mooks' [Kearney] just yet to discuss my role, but I have come here to learn as much as I can," said Cherrington, who is on a second-tier deal through until the end of 2018.
"I have worked with a lot of great players and taken a lot from them. With 'Bully' (Luke) being the New Zealand hooker, and you have also got Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck), 'Foz' (Kieran Foran) and Shaun Johnson who are also in the Kiwi jumper too.
"Bully was and still is my favourite player. I love the way he plays."
Cherrington headed to Cronulla from the Wests Tigers at the end of last season with eyes on the starting hooker spot, which had been made vacant by the retirement of Michael Ennis.
But after rookie Jayden Brailey got the edge through the pre-season and became the starting No.9, Cherrington couldn't get a shot and instead languished in the Intrust Super Premiership with feeder club the Newtown Jets, with Sharks coach Shane Flanagan preferring to use Fa'amanu Brown as the bench hooking option.
It then became clear Cherrington had no NRL future at Cronulla when the club picked up experienced rake James Segeyaro early in the season.
"I wasn't really learning much off Jayden with him being a young boy. I was learning off Segeyaro but then he was always injured," Cherrington said.
"To have Issac here, I am only 22 and still have a lot to learn, so that's big for me here to learn off him.
"That was the motivation. You would love to play NRL but I am only 22 and a lot of people don't kick on at this level until later, so that's what I am looking to do."
After taking the field for the Warriors' reserve-grade side a fortnight ago, just two days after signing with the club, Cherrington, who was in the Kiwis' train-on squad back in 2015, has wasted no time in impressing his new teammates.
"He has joined us for a couple of sessions out on the field [and] I have seen a bit of his play over the years," halfback Johnson said.
"One thing is that he is a real traditional sort of hooker, there is no second position he plays, he is a straight-up hooker which is very handy to have.
"He has got good deception around the ruck which is what I have noticed at training and he has obviously got good speed around the ruck as well."
Cherrington has been named to start at hooker for the Warriors' reserve-grade team on Saturday, the day after the NRL side host the Canterbury Bulldogs at Mount Smart Stadium.