Wayde Egan is still a stranger in town — but it might not stay that way for long.
At the moment the new Warriors' hooker could walk down Queen Street unrecognised, and probably even wouldn't turn too many heads out Penrose way.
All that could change in a few weeks though, as Egan, who will make his Warriors debut in the trial against the Melbourne Storm in Palmerston North on Saturday, could become one of the most important players at the Mt Smart club.
In the No 9 jersey, Egan will touch the ball more than any other player and will set the tone for the attack, as well as organising at the base of the ruck.
The 22-year-old could also offer stability in the dummy-half role, something that has been missing in the last few years.
Issac Luke mixed inspirational with inconsistent, the luckless Nathaniel Roache has barely played due to constant injuries and Karl Lawton has impressed but has also struggled with injury (with another shoulder reconstruction during the off-season) while Jazz Tevaga is a part time rake.
Egan is a specialist, unlike Roache and Lawton who are both converted halves.
As the only name recruit coming into this season, Egan is seen as a vital factor in turning the Warriors ship around, after a poor 2019. So is he feeling the pressure?
"Not really — there is always pressure in the NRL," said Egan. "There was pressure when I was at Penrith to perform each week. I try not to think about that too much and take it week by week. You just put in your best effort, work hard at training and during the games and the rest will take care of itself. And it solves everything if you win footy games."
Egan sees his key role as adding structure, quite different to the free-wheeling style offered by Luke.
Former Kiwis coach still living with pain of World Cup disaster
"I'm an organiser, it's my job to get the boys around the park," said Egan. "Greenie (Blake Green) felt like he had a bit of a burden on him last year, trying to do everything and it affected his game. I'll be directing traffic and off the back of that, getting my running game going and making other guys look good."
"We've got a pretty mobile forward pack, probably not the biggest, but very mobile and skilful. I need to get the likes of Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck], Kodi [Nikorima] and Chanel [Harris-Tavita] the ball early and get into a lot of space."
Egan, who made his debut for the Panthers in round four of the 2018 season, also underwent shoulder surgery during the off season, but says he is fully recovered.
He has engaged in full contact training for the last three weeks, and says he is "ready to go".
Egan, who has played 29 NRL games, is happy with the combinations built with the rest of the spine, and is enjoying life in Auckland so far.
"It's a nice place," said Egan. "Before you would come over once a year and it was raining and cold so it's been great to have a look around and enjoy the summer. "
There is not much optimism around the Warriors' prospects this season, with doubts around the ability of their pack to compete with the top sides, exacerbated by the recent loss of key prop Bunty Afoa with a season-ending knee injury, but Egan is confident.
"We will be strong enough and fit enough," said Egan. "Packs are smaller these days, no one really carries these 125kg blokes anymore, especially with less interchanges and the ruck speeds….it can definitely work to our advantage. We have some really skilful forwards, who can thrive with the way we want to play."