It's appropriate Albert Vete was likened to former All Blacks prop Olo Brown recently. Vete played rugby — he captained the St Kentigern College 1st XV from No 8 or loose forward — until switching to league four years ago and there are still reminders of his rugby background in the way he plays.

Against Manly and Wests Tigers recently, the 22-year-old Tongan international barged his way over to score tries from close range after employing a driving, low-running style more commonly seen off the fringes of rucks and mauls in rugby.

"One of the boys was calling him Olo Brown," fellow prop Ben Matulino laughed.

"You can tell he's got a rugby background but he's been massive for us. The last couple of weeks, he's been pushing through his limits and his kick-returns against the Cowboys reminded me of [former Warrior Iafeta] Paleaaesina's runs."

Advertisement

Vete has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise dark end to the Warriors' season.

He's averaged nearly 90m in each of his 20 games this season with his hard-running style, along with more than 18 tackles a game.

It's a good return for a player who might not have expected to see much first-grade action this season.

Vete has been a rock for a Warriors side recently lacking confidence and short on go-forward without suspended Kiwis international Matulino and injured Queensland State of Origin prop Jacob Lillyman.

Crucially, he has more than held his own playing against some of the best front-rowers in the game, including Matt Scott, James Tamou, Aaron Woods and Martin Taupau and today that challenge includes bruising Bulldogs forwards James Graham, David Klemmer and Sam Kasiano.

He's certainly risen above his status as an NRL newbie and is even being talked about as a potential Warriors captain-in-waiting.

"Cappy [coach Andrew McFadden] has given me a challenge in the last couple of weeks to step up and really be a leader and that's what I want to do later on in my career, lead the team," he said.

"Hopefully one day, I'll get an opportunity to do that. I'm more of a natural leader and I thrive on being put into that leadership role and having to lead the pack. But I've got to keep my head down and do a bit more hard work."

Second-rower Ryan Hoffman says there are clear signs he could be a future leader at the Warriors.

"Certainly, you can identify these guys and it's a growth process," said Hoffman. "It's good to see the maturity level more than anything that he's shown in his first year.

"You don't want to put tags on players too early but he can certainly be a future leader for the club."

It's not only team-mates who have noticed the subtle rugby influence in Vete's running.

"I got a text from my brother saying, 'nice pick-and-go try' so that was a bit of a laugh. It's always good to score a try in the NRL, and for props, it doesn't come too often.

"It has stayed with me. Growing up playing union, it's what you need to do. If you went in running high, you could get held up and lose the ball so it was always an aspect of being a forward in rugby and it has just stuck with me.

"I've just stuck with that technique and it's worked. Hopefully I'll keep using it and can score a few more."