Stat Attack: Fusitu'a on cusp of Warriors history
The sold-out signs have gone up at Mt Smart Stadium for Simon Mannering's 300th match but the milestone man isn't the only one with a piece of club history in his crosshairs in Friday's clash against Canberra.
David Fusitu'a is on the cusp of becoming the first Warriors player to top the NRL's try-scoring list after a hat-trick against Penrith last week propelled the 23-year-old winger to the summit of the regular season race with 21 tries in as many appearances.
Sharks speedster Valentine Holmes (20 tries) will need to continue his purple patch against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Sunday to eclipse Fusitu'a. That is presuming the Warriors finisher doesn't add to his tally at Mt Smart Stadium, which will be packed with more than 25,000 fans for Mannering's potential home swansong - the first time the club has sold out two regular-season games since its debut campaign in 1995.
Whatever happens against the Raiders, Fusitu'a has already become the first Warrior to reach the 20-try mark in a regular season. Francis Meli holds the club's single season record but five of his 23 tries in 2003 came in one particularly memorable finals match against the Bulldogs while Manu Vatuvei reached 20 in 2010 with one try coming in the finals.
It's been a great way to begin repaying the lucrative five-year contract extension that will keep Fusitu'a at Mt Smart until at least the end of 2023.
"It's nothing that I set out to do at the start of the year but yeah, I'm pretty stoked with it and it's pretty cool to see the faith that the club has in me," Fusitu'a told NRL.com.
"There's a lot of ways where I can get better every week and that's just what I'm trying to do."
That self-analysis comes in the wake of Warriors coach Stephen Kearney challenging the Tonga winger to become a great for the Auckland club after saying "the thing with David is he doesn't understand how good he can really be".
It could also have had something to do with the fact Kearney was in earshot as Fusitu'a outlined how he's trying to improve.
"Defence has been one of the key ones this year and making sure we're connected on our edge," said the fifth-season Warrior who has carried for an average of 106 metres this season but owns a tackling efficiency percentage standing at a smidgeon over 50%.
"Things like being a lot more physical, being there for those carries when the team needs me. I think we're doing a pretty good job, me and Kenny (fellow winger Ken Maumalo) helping the boys out of danger. It's just getting better every week. You don't want to be in a place where you're staying the same and not learning."
Kearney sees Fusitu'a eventually cementing a place in the centres and so too does the big winger - in the long-term.
"It's definitely great to have quality players inside me like Shaun (Johnson) and Tohu (Harris) and Pet (Peta Hiku), Gerard Beale, guys who can distribute the ball to me. It's just a matter of putting the ball down most of the time," Fusitu'a said.