Glen Fisiiahi finds his place in the Nines squad
Sam Tomkins and Shaun Johnson may be the poster boys when it comes to the Warriors team at the Auckland Nines, but it could be a different player altogether who steals the show, Glen Fisiiahi.
The fullback/wing looks to have the perfect skill set to excel in nines. He has pace to burn, the strength to break through tackles and possesses the X-factor needed to exploit the extra space on a nines field.
As the Warriors seem to be taking the Auckland Nines more seriously than most of the other clubs, it would come as no surprise to see the 23-year-old end up as the tournament's top try scorer. But when asked about how he thinks he might go next weekend Fisiiahi is pretty reserved.
"We'll find out," he said, declining to elaborate any further.
While he may not want to talk himself up, he has no such reservations about discussing Johnson and Tomkins.
"The game is well suited for those guys and especially for Sam, he's really explosive," Fisiiahi said.
"I've been really impressed with him in our trainings and he's passing game is just as good as his running game."
Fisiiahi, who said he learnt an immense amount playing alongside Brent Kite and Fuifui Moimoi for Tonga at last year's Rugby League World Cup, played sevens for New Zealand Secondary Schools during his time with the "other" code.
He'll take that experience into the Nines, but he also remembers how gruelling it was to play on a full size field with fewer numbers.
"There will be a lot of room out there," he said.
"The closest thing I've experienced to nines was playing sevens and that was pretty tiring, so I'm guessing nines will be the same thing.
"But it's very important do well, it's in our own back yard at Eden Park and there will be 44,000 people turning up each day.
"So it would be great if we can get that win and it will be good for our members and supporters as well."
Fisiiahi has become something of a forgotten man when people speculate on how the Warriors might line up in the NRL this year.
He playedsuperbly at fullback last year, when filling in for Kevin Locke and also impressed on the wing.
The arrival of Tomkins from Wigan means it will be harder for him to get time in the No 1 jersey this year and it's more likely he'll join the battle for a spot on the wing.
He admits that wing wasn't a position he studied in the past and says he wasn't given many instructions to help him play there. But these days his view has changed.
"I'm getting more comfortable and familiar with that role," he said.
"In the past I was just chucked in there when I wasn't playing fullback. I wasn't really focussed on that role, but coming off last season and learning off Matt [Elliott] really helped me."