NRL 2019: Ken Maumalo credits Peta Hiku for breakout Warriors season

NZ Warriors winger Ken Maumalo is having a breakout NRL season and has one teammate to credit for his rise through the ranks.

That man is Peta Hiku, whom coach Stephen Kearney moved from right to left centre to play inside Maumalo at the start of the season.

The decision to switch Hiku to the opposite side has paid off for Maumalo, who is the joint leader try-scorer in 2019.

Heading into the season, Maumalo had played 64 games since debuting for the Warriors in 2015, scoring 14 tries.

In just 15 games this season, he already has 12.

On top of that, the 24-year-old leads the NRL in all runs (290) and run metres (2829), which has helped him become a mainstay in the Warriors starting side.

Hiku's ball distribution was vital for the Warriors last season, when he played next to David Fusitu'a, who was the NRL's top tryscorer with 22 four-pointers.

"He [Hiku] always passes it at the right time," Maumalo told Newshub. "He's been putting it on a platter for me.

"I wasn't getting much ball, but he's passing me the ball more. He's an assist to the team, no matter where he plays.

"He brings lots of energy and he's a good player." 

NRL 2019: Ken Maumalo credits Peta Hiku for breakout Warriors season

But Mauamlo should be sitting atop of the try-scoring list, after the video 'bunker' ruled out what would have been his hat-trick try during the Warriors' 24-20 win over the Newcastle Knights last weekend.

With 14 minutes remaining and the Warriors leading by four points, Mauamlo put the ball down with an acrobatic dive, but referee Adam Gee wanted the bunker to review the grounding.

Despite one replay clearly showing the winger scoring, the video official looked at another angle and decided to disallow it.

"We ran back to halfway, and Blake Green and David [Fusitu'a] asked if I got it down - I said 'yeah I did, don't worry'.

"I was really confident I was going to get the try, but they looked at a different angle and it came back as no try, but I felt my fingers were on the ball.

"Blake and David probably lost trust in me, so next time I'll say I didn't get it down.

"We can't do anything about it. It doesn't matter - we won the game - but it would have been different if we'd lost.

"I'm just happy to get the win."

The decision was one of three controversial calls to come from the match, but somehow the Warriors overcame a 12-2 halftime deficit to beat an Origin-depleted Knights side - their first win against a top-eight team this season.

The Warriors are only two points outside the NRL's top eight, but in their last nine games, eight of them come against teams above them in the standings, including two against both the Cronulla Sharks and Canberra Raiders.

The odds will be against the Warriors, but Maumalo feels the win against Newcastle will give them plenty of confidence.

"The boys took lots of confidence out of this one, especially going down at halftime, but I feed off their confidence and it's making me play the way I am.

"It shows lots of resilient about the way we play and we've been in the contest for the last month, but we haven't been polishing it off at the end.

"We spoke about it at halftime, and the leaders came together and said, 'we need to knuckle down and play tough'. I thought we did that in the second half, which was pleasing."  


Join us at 7:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Warriors v Broncos NRL clash