Players back Hingano for starting gig
The Warriors' signing of Blake Green this week all but guarantees Ata Hingano won't be the club's first-choice five-eighth next year, but many believe he's shown he deserves to be.
Hingano has been one of Mate Ma'a Tonga's standout performers in their historic march to the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals, showing maturity beyond his years with his ability to lead a star-studded forward pack around the park and control games with his kicking.
But in bringing Green across from the Manly Sea Eagles on a three-year deal, the Warriors appear to have signalled they don't believe Hingano is the right man to partner Shaun Johnson in the halves, something his former club and current international teammate Sio Siua Taukeiaho can't understand.
"Yeah, I think [Ata] deserves a start wherever he goes. He is still young and he has still got a lot in him, so we will hopefully see him play first grade soon," Taukeiaho said ahead of Tonga's semi-final against England on Saturday night.
"I don't really know much about Blake Green, but I think Ata being there as well will put in some competition for the other halves as well. He is a good player, Ata.
"He is a real quiet guy… he is also the youngest in the team, but all of us boys all respect him and his role as a half.
"He has got us here [to be] playing semi-finals."
In four games to date Hingano, who made his NRL Telstra Premiership debut in 2016, has laid on three try assists for Tonga, building on the confidence gained from his seven starts in the halves this year for the Warriors.
England hooker Josh Hodgson was another to praise the 20-year-old, having been impressed by Hingano when they met at club level in Round 23 this year.
"We played him when we played the Warriors this year, he is a great young player and he has really stood up for the Tongans, leading them around the park really well and putting his best foot forward," Hodgson said.
"He has put his hand up and is representing his nation very well."