Maumalo coming into his own
As far as shadows go, Manu Vatuvei's is a fairly large and difficult one to try and get away from.
But last Friday night in a 21-14 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs in Auckland, Ken Maumalo took another step to ensuring he becomes the permanent owner of the Warriors' No.5 jersey, with another eye-catching performance on the left flank.
Along with a game-high 203 metres from 19 carries, with 11 tackles breaks, Maumalo also scored a stunning try which saw him overcome an initial ankle tap to run 70 metres, with the help of a strong fend and a step.
"I was pretty stoked I got over for that try… I am happy with my progress but for me it's just working on it every week, now it is good but [I've] still got to work on it," Maumalo said.
"I can't get too happy with how I am going, there is always something to improve on, I know if I am happy then something is going to be wrong."
Heading into Round 17, when his side to travel to Perth to take on the high-flying Manly Sea Eagles, Maumalo sits fourth in the NRL Telstra Premiership in terms of the most runs made, averaging 17.5 per game, while his 161 metres on average places him sixth among the competition's best metre eaters.
His role early in tackle counts has been significant for the Warriors, forging a platform for quick play the balls thanks in part to his ability to break tackles, while also averaging 50 post-contact metres per game in 2017.
At 22 years of age and in just his third season of first-grade footy, Maumalo's feats on the wing are made even more impressive by the fact that he was primarily a back-rower right up until the start of 2015, playing much of his Holden Cup career in the pack.
Veteran Warriors centre Blake Ayshford piled praise on Maumalo and the influence he is having on games.
"His work rate is phenomenal. The amount of times he carries the ball, he is up there with the best in the competition and is taking a lot of pressure off our forwards, who can have that little breather and defend or get in later on a set," Ayshford told NRL.com.
"You just look at him and the work he gets through, I make tackles and then run and I am buggered, I look at him and think 'how are you doing this mate?'.
"He is a big body and is hard to pull down. Any little metres he makes, it's important to the team. He is a big part of this team now.
"He is slowly learning about defence and what it takes to be an NRL player every week and I can only see him going forward from this. The way he is carrying the ball and the aggression he runs with, it dents teams and it is helping everyone at the Warriors.
"There are some times when he has been in the wrong this year and times we he has come up with brilliance. That's just part of the learning curve."