The decision by Michael Maguire to appoint five captains for 2022 was met with everything from bemusement to bagging to ‘best of luck with that’, but Ken Maumalo is adamant the outside noise won’t distract or derail the Tigers.
Last year’s skippers James Tamou and Luke Brooks have been joined by Tyrone Peachey, Adam Doueihi and Maumalo in a leadership group that boasts 823 games of NRL experience and no shortage of life experience.
Tamou is the only one to have played in a grand final although Doueihi, Peachey and Maumalo have all been part of play-off campaigns with Souths, Gold Coast and the Warriors respectively.
After rounding out the pre-season trials with a win over the Roosters at Gosford, Maumalo was keen to talk up the positive aspects of the decision to share the load among a forward leader, three playmakers and a wingman.
“Instead of having one captain who has all the pressure on him, we thought five of us could take the load off the one skipper and that way we are moving together,” said Maumalo.
“We get that everyone will criticise us but this is a new group and all that matters is what’s inside the circle.
“Five captains has happened before – it’s not like it’s a new thing.
The criticism doesn’t bother us.Ken Maumalo
For 27-year-old Maumalo, who joined the club midway through last year from the Warriors, the honour is made more special by the fact he was nominated by his team-mates.
“I’ve been in leadership groups before but this one is unique because it’s a leadership captaincy role and when you have your peers vote for you there are more expectations on your shoulders,” he said.
“You know the other boys trust us to be leaders and you don’t want to let them down.
“I can feed some information from a different perspective on the wing rather than the captain always being in the middle.”
With Doueihi still recovering from a knee reconstruction and Tamou suspended, the Tigers head into a daunting season opener against Melbourne two captains down, but Maumalo says the presence of star recruit Jackson Hastings can fill any leadership void.
Back in the NRL after a four-year Super League stint that included grand final appearances with Salford and Wigan, Hastings supplies the class and confidence the Tigers need to break a decade-long finals drought.
“To have someone of Jackson’s calibre leading the team is a boost and what we needed,” Maumalo said.
“He brings a different experience in terms of knowing the game well. He’s all over the park and he’s confident and we’re happy to have him here.”