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Warriors centre Peta Hiku.

Forget about perfecting athletic finishes or finding an advantage through sports science, the key to becoming the Telstra Premiership's top tryscorer might be as simple as making sure you're playing next to Peta Hiku.

With Warriors winger Ken Maumalo currently the NRL's joint leading tryscorer, Hiku is a good chance of being the centre partner for the competition's most prolific tryscorer for the second year in a row, after helping David Fusitu'a to the award last year.

Maumalo scored two tries in the Warriors' 24-22 loss to the Eels last Saturday – both of which were assisted by Hiku – to jump back even with Parramatta powerhouse Maika Sivo on 14 tries.

This year Hiku has assisted 10 tries, the most by any Warriors player, and across the last two seasons has laid on more four-pointers than any other centre in the game with 18. 

Veteran centre Blake Ayshford told it's those stats which prove Hiku is one of the most underrated players around in his position.

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"How many other centres can say they have been the inside player for two wingers who they have set up that many tries for in the last two years?" Ayshford said. 

"I don't think it's a coincidence that Ken is one of the top tryscorers right now.

"I told Peta that's his bargaining chip right there [for his next contract].

"I think he is really underrated… he's playing some good footy, last year he was playing good footy. I think he cops an unfair deal at times."

Hiku, 26, has picked up where he left off in 2018 despite switching from the right edge to the left this season.

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While that move might have caused problems for some players, coach Stephen Kearney said it never entered his mind when it came to Hiku.

"You put him anywhere, playing bare feet on a muddy ground, and he will find a way to put someone in a bit of space," Kearney said.

"He's just a natural footballer… it says a lot about his football ability and I was always confident he was going to be able to [switch sides successfully]."

Linking up with Hiku has been the catalyst for Maumalo experiencing the best season of his career, and after scoring just five times last year the hulking Kiwi international has amassed as many tries this season as he did through the previous four years of his NRL career.

"Peta's draw and pass is probably the best I have played outside of," Maumalo said.

"It's knowing when to pass… he always passes me the ball at the right times.

"I'm still getting used to [scoring so many tries]."

Peta Hiku looks on after putting Ken Maumalo away for a try in Newcastle.
Peta Hiku looks on after putting Ken Maumalo away for a try in Newcastle. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

Hiku was quick to put the success of the left side down to the people around him, and said he excels in the uniquely Kiwi approach adopted by edge partners Kodi Nikorima, Adam Blair and Maumalo.

"It's good having the people around me like 'Blairs', who in his words likes to be 'Maori as' out there, which means you do whatever you feel on the field," Hiku told

"If there's something on and you don't do it, no doubt him or Kodi and Ken won't let you hear the end of it, they'll be ripping into you.

"I think everyone thinks [the large number of assists] is something bigger than it is.

"For me it's about trying to build people around you to be better. I'd rather make us as an edge better, because I think that will make the team better."

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