Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: Hingano content to test himself against returning Foran

Ata Hingano. Photo / Supplied
Ata Hingano. Photo / Supplied

Ata Hingano isn't overawed by the impending arrival of Kieran Foran in Warriors league colours, preferring to see it as a challenge.

The teenager was one of the standouts from the opening round 26-22 win over the Knights, with a strong performance in his first NRL start.

While most people are assuming Foran will automatically take the Warriors No6 jersey for round three, the performance of Hingano added to the selection decisions over the next few weeks, and longer term recruitment choices.

No one questions Foran's ability - if he can recapture his form of 2013 and 2014 - and he has been brought to Mt Smart to be a senior playmaker.

But one gets the impression Hingano won't be comfortable in the shadows for too long.

"I've got my own goals but I'm taking it one game at a time," Hingano told the Herald. "I want to learn as much as possible and it is great to be around someone like Kieran."

When asked if he was concerned about the looming shadow of Foran, Hingano was straight to the point.

"I just want to play as well as I can," said Hingano. "That's all I can do. Then the rest is up to the coaches."

The 19-year-old was impressive during some difficult moments against Newcastle and it was the most promising start for a home grown half in many a year.

Hingano kicked a bomb out on the full early but was otherwise solid, with touches of flair.

Midway through the first half he managed a crucial one-on-one strip and showed his pace with a 50m burst in the second half.

But the standout was his assist for Ryan Hoffman's match-winning try; a 19-year-old, in his third NRL game, wanting the ball with the game on the line, serving up the right pass for Hoffman, then having the awareness to give his teammate a helpful shove towards the line.

"That was all Hoff," said Hingano. "I just gave him the ball."

Hingano is a bit different. He was congratulated by Johnathan Thurston after his debut against the Cowboys last year and had a rare calmness on field last Sunday.

"I wasn't really nervous," said Hingano. "I just went out there to do my job. We have trained and prepared so much that I know what to do."

Hingano is unsigned beyond this season, and has already had interest from at least three other NRL clubs, with one high-profile team flying him to Australia for a tour of their club and premises. The Warriors are keen to keep him, but it's a juggling act for 2018 and beyond, depending on the status of Johnson and Foran.

Meanwhile, Warriors vice-captain Simon Mannering has been cleared to start against the Melbourne Storm at Mt Smart Stadium on Friday - but Issac Luke and Charlie Gubb will be assessed in the coming days.

Coach Stephen Kearney confirmed Mannering has recovered from a neck concern but a final decision on Luke (rib cartilage) and Gubb (concussion) will be made later in the week.

"Simon will be fine," said Kearney. "We're hopeful all three will be able to play."

- NZ Herald

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