NRL 2020: NZ Warriors lose Ken Maumalo for Penrith Panthers clash

The NZ Warriors have suffered a massive blow for Friday's NRL clash against the Penrith Panthers, with wing Ken Maumalo ruled out with a hamstring injury. 

Maumalo sustained the injury during a training session at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Wednesday, and has been replaced by Adam Pompey in the starting side. 

The 25-year-old was one of the Warriors' best performers during their 18-0 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons last week where he ran for 282 meters. 

How long Maumalo will be sidelined for remains unclear, but he joins the Warriors' long injury list which includes Peta Haiku (ribs), Lachlan Burr (head knock), Leeson Ah Mau (pec) , Nathaniel Roache, Jazz Tevaga, Adam Keighan, Taane Milne, Jackson Frei and Bunty Afoa (all knee) who are all currently sidelined. 

Maumalo will be a big loss against the unbeaten Panthers, who have also beaten the Warriors in five of their last seven games. 

But the Warriors remain confident as ever after they produced one of their best performances in recent memory against the Dragons, where they became the first team in the NRL era to complete their first 40 sets.

After a sloppy start to the season before the coronavirus pandemic forced the competition to be suspended, Warriors forward Tohu Harris said the team needed to make changes to their structure and it had nothing to do with the new rules implemented during the lockdown. 

NRL 2020: NZ Warriors lose Ken Maumalo for Penrith Panthers clash

"We weren't making changes because of the rules, we were making changes because of our performances in the first two rounds," Harris explained. 

"The way we played suited the rule changes I guess, but it doesn't matter what rules there are or who you’re playing against, the effort from everyone to work hard and work for each other, that's got to be there.

"We needed to make a change because we felt like we didn’t perform as well as we could over the first two rounds and it was pleasing to have a better performance.

"But we've got to make sure we keep on improving because we know teams are still getting used to the way games are being played at the moment."

Former Warriors coach and current Panthers boss Ivan Cleary said it was good to see his former club win last week, but hopes they don't repeat that performance on Friday.  

"It was good to see them get up and have a win last week," Cleary explained. "Emotion generally speaking only takes you so far.

"I presume emotion may have had some role in that - I don't really know the details - [but] emotion or no emotion, they were pretty impressive in their victory.

"We're definitely getting ourselves ready for a tough game."

NRL 2020: NZ Warriors lose Ken Maumalo for Penrith Panthers clash