Warriors winger Ken Maumalo is relishing his elevated role in the Warriors' attacking plan this season, but says even he's surprised he is the club's leading try-scorer heading into round 10.
While fellow winger David Fusitu'a is renowned for his prolific scoring rate – last year topping the Telstra Premiership with 22 tries in as many regular season appearances – Maumalo is the first to admit it hasn't always been a strong point of his own game.
Prior to this year the hulking winger had crossed the line only 14 times in 64 games, and credits more ball coming his way for his current strike rate.
"I have actually been surprised I have got seven tries. In the past couple of years I didn't really score tries on the edge," Maumalo said ahead of Friday night's match against Penrith at Panthers Stadium.
"It's a shock to me, but I really have to credit the boys inside me who set me up.
"I feel like I am getting more ball on the edge [this year]."
In addition to his try-scoring feats, Maumalo is also averaging 169 metres per game this year and against the Dragons in the NRL Magic Round finished with a try, line break and two tackle breaks to his name.
Panthers v Warriors - Round 10
Coach Stephen Kearney said Maumalo's rich vein of form follows his decision at end of last season to learn the finer points of wing play.
"What I have been really impressed with about Ken is that right from the end of last season to coming back [this year], he wants to find the areas of his game that he needs to improve on and can be better at," Kearney said.
"That's part of wanting to be one of the best wingers in the competition, you've got to always strive to get yourself better and I think Ken does a really good job of that.
"The last three to four weeks have been pretty good games for Ken… he came up with a couple of really important defensive reads on the weekend [against the Dragons]."
But while Maumalo is benefitting from the increase in traffic on his side, Fusitu'a appears to be suffering on the right, with the Mate Ma'a Tonga representative scoring only two tries so far this year compared to 11 in the same period last season.
Fusitu'a told NRL.com he was now finding other ways to contribute to the team and refused to blame the departure of Shaun Johnson, and subsequent personnel shake up on the right edge, for his scoring decline.
"I am still going out there and trying to help the team, if it's scoring tries it's scoring tries, but if it's just taking hard carries and making my reads on the edge then that's what I'll do," Fusitu'a said.
"Personnel has changed on the edge so that makes things a bit different, but my role hasn't changed so I just go out there and do my job.
"[Blake] Green was almost getting the same amount of ball [last year], the difference was Shaun was playing off-the-cuff footy and what he saw in front of him. They are different types of players.
"But we are still going to get the ball, we will still get opportunities and we have just got to make sure we finish them off."