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

NRL: Warriors wing Ken Maumalo learns lesson from Newcastle stoush

Dane Gagai and Ken Maumalo shape up during Warriors v Knights. Photo/Photosport
Dane Gagai and Ken Maumalo shape up during Warriors v Knights. Photo/Photosport

Warriors winger Ken Maumalo has learned his lesson and is vowing not to be drawn into verbal battles with NRL opponents in the future.

Maumalo blotted an otherwise solid performance in the 26-22 win over the Knights last Sunday with his shove on Jamie Buhrer late in the game, which sparked a scuffle that involved almost all 26 players on the field.

Maumalo's action in isolation was fairly innocuous, but it could have been costly, if the referees had chosen to penalise the Warriors winger, giving Newcastle territory and possession.

That was reflected in Ryan Hoffman berating his team-mate immediately afterwards.

"It was a bit of a silly play from me," said Maumalo. "I was trying to get into his head.

"When I was making those errors in the first half, he was giving it to me, so that's why I thought I would give it back to him.

Otherwise, I wouldn't have done that.

"There was nothing much in it."

Former Bulldogs and Sharks hooker Michael Ennis, for all his qualities as a player, became one of the most unlikeable payers in the sport for his habit of reminding players - either verbally or physically - when they had made an error.

Maumalo doesn't want to follow that lead.

"There was no need for me to do that," said Maumalo. "It's a learning thing for me and I know next time not to let them get into my head."

Aside from a couple of handling errors, Maumalo, who has 19 NRL matches under his belt, had a solid game against the Knights. He regularly went looking for work, accumulating 133 metres from 14 carries, and was solid defensively.

The 22-year-old is far from the finished product, but looks more confident than he did in his debut year, when he came into a Warriors side that was struggling in the second half of 2015.

Maumalo is also aware of the giant shadow of Manu Vatuvei, with the "Beast" coming back into reckoning, as he regains full fitness. Vatuvei took no part in either of the pre-season trials due to niggling injuries, but a played full match for the Warriors reserve grade side on Sunday and has been named in an extended 21-man squad for Friday's clash with the Storm.

"Manu is a legend," said Maumalo. "It is good for both of us ... pushing each other.

"I can push him and he will do the best to push me. There is a battle for that [left] wing spot, but I can't control that.

"The only thing I can control is my performance on the field and that is what will determine if I play or not."

- NZ Herald

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