NRL 2021: Ken Maumalo settling at Wests Tigers after emotional departure from NZ Warriors

Ken Maumalo is settling in at his new club, less than a week after his emotional farewell from NZ Warriors.

The hard-running winger will debut for Wests Tigers on Saturday night, against the Melbourne Storm, whom he scored a hat-trick of tries against in his final outing for the Auckland club last week. 

Maumalo played 107 games for the Warriors in six-and-a-half seasons, scoring 47 tries, while he has also been capped 13 times for New Zealand (9) and Samoa (4).

NRL 2021: Ken Maumalo settling at Wests Tigers after emotional departure from NZ Warriors

But at just 26, the Tigers may be getting Maumalo in his prime and although he admits the new jersey feels "different", he is excited to begin the next chapter of his career.

"I'm just grateful to be here," Maumalo tells Weststgers.com.au. "I think I look good in these colours." 

Last Sunday's farewell from the Warriors ended in tears for Maumalo, who had been at the club for a decade, after signing as a 16-year-old.

Maumalo says the realisation that he would probably never wear the jersey again set in at full-time and what followed was pure emotion. 

"I'm not a man that would shed tears in front of the cameras, but everything bottled up at once and it just came out.

"It was a different type of experience, because I didn't think I was playing, until just before the game.

"Those last few seconds as the clock ran down, I looked down at the Warriors jersey and thought, ‘damn, this is my last time in these colours’. I just took the time to appreciate it."

Tigers coach Michael Maguire is no stranger to Maumalo's talents, after seeing them first hand at the Kiwis helm, but what his new recruit brings to the culture of the club excites him.

"He's a really good man, big Kenny," Maguire says. "I think the members and the fans will really enjoy his style of play, and I know what he'll do for his teammates is the most impressive part.

"I think it says alot about Ken, the way he dealt with last week.

"He spent 10 years at that club, but sometimes opportunity is presented to you, and this is one now where he can come to a new club and have a new start."

A emotional Ken Maumalo post-game with Josh Curran. Vodafone Warriors v Melbourne Storm. NRL Rugby League, Central Coast Stadium, Gosford, NSW, Australia, Sunday 13th June 2021 Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Photo credit: Photosport

Meanwhile, the Warriors have yet to confirm the signing of Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, despite several Australian media reports that he has signed a three-year deal.

Join us at 5pm Saturday for live updates of the Warriors v Newcastle Knights NRL clash