At around 5:05pm on Saturday, Agnatius Paasi will brace himself for pain.

As the Warriors front rower takes his first hit up of the match against the Storm, he'll be ready for the contact, knowing he is going to test his body to the limits again.

The 27-year-old has been carrying a series of knocks and niggles over the past six weeks, which makes a tough job even harder.

The injuries aren't enough to be sidelined, but he has required a series of pain killing injections to get on the field.


With the load that Paasi has taken on this year – and given the fact he has been the most consistent forward during the recent run of improved performances – that's even more impressive.

"It been good to have a physical break over the past two weeks," said Paasi, who missed the Broncos loss through suspension, before last week's bye. "I wanted to play against Brisbane of course...but my body was almost broken so it was good to have [some time] off."

Paasi has a damaged AC joint in his left shoulder, and a lingering problem on the other shoulder from surgery last year. Both are stable, but they are uncomfortable, requiring pre-game shots of cortisone.

The Mangere East junior also has a cracked bone in his wrist, which he describes as "a bit of a painful one". It didn't need to be put in plaster, but takes a while to heal.

"Since round six or seven I've had knocks here and there, needles here and there," said Paasi. "I'd had physio during the week and then coming up to the game get needles to stop the pain and battle on."

It's typical of Paasi, recognized as one of the hardest men at Mt Smart. He's the last guy to make a fuss – and was reluctant to even talk about his injuries – but has become a vital presence at the club.

His signing last year didn't attract many headlines, but it's proved an astute piece of business; Paasi was an ever present from round three onwards in 2018 , then cracked the Kiwis squad under Michael Maguire at the end of the year.

Other Warriors forwards refer to him as the 'alpha male' of their pack and coach Stephen Kearney has noted his developing leadership.


"This year that's stepped up ….and at the back half of last year he came to the fore," said Kearney. "He's a real leader among the [middle forwards]."

Paasi scored the crucial first half try against the Dragons in Brisbane, which gave the Warriors a platform for their second half comeback.

He also demonstrated his remarkable strength and leg drive against Panthers, carrying a trio of defenders 10 metres to bulldoze over the line.

Four times this season Paasi has topped 100 running metres (average 90) and he's contributed 12 offloads. He's also making 25 tackles a game in the engine room.

He traces his improvement back to the Kiwis experience in England, absorbing lessons from the likes of Jesse Bromwich and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

"Just seeing them, what they do on the training paddock," said Paasi. "Their intent in training; they go 100 miles an hour and what you see in the match is what you get in training."

"Some days I'm not feeling up to it and some days I am, but I try to take myself back there and come with that energy and that lift into training every day.

The Warriors have a point to prove on Saturday, after their last-gasp defeat against the Storm on Anzac day.

"Some people doubted us, especially when they saw the lineup and we played our hearts out," said Paasi. "We are ready to rip in again [today]."