As he left the field following his four-try showing against the Dragons, the last thing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak expected was to have Paul Gallen ask for a sniff of his luscious locks.
But there he was, standing on the edge of the WIN Stadium turf with one of the NRL era’s most feared forwards inhaling his mullet, which in the 80 minutes prior was about all St George Illawarra defenders got to see of him, as the veteran winger terrorised them down the right flank.
"It's the first time someone has asked to smell it, usually it's just to touch it, but I was quite shocked," Watene-Zelezniak said.
I am surprised I said yes to be honest… he wanted to smell it and I was like, 'oh it's Paul Gallen, he might knock me out if I don't'.Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
"He said it smells nice, which is good feedback, especially after a game."
Seeing DWZ's hair whipping into the in-goal area for tries – which he has 10 of in his last five games – has become a memorable image for Warriors fans in 2023.
This season, like several of his teammates, the 27-year-old is enjoying career-best form under the coaching of Andrew Webster, averaging 171 run metres per game and having already bagged 12 four-pointers.
DWZ with a miraculous put down
And the Kiwi international says it's family who are behind his strong run so far.
"I have got a really good routine at the moment and most of it is family time with my wife and kids," he said.
"When I am getting away from footy, I am really getting away from footy.
"A big reason why we moved back here [to New Zealand] is because I am from here and I wanted my wife and kids to experience that. We are living it up here and really enjoying our time."
A win this Friday against South Sydney would mark the first time since 2018 that the Warriors have won four-straight games in a season, while depending on other results it could also propel them into the Telstra Premiership's top four.
Match: Warriors v Rabbitohs
Round 18 -
Venue: Go Media Stadium, Auckland
Webster said while he understands that will be the popular narrative leading into the game at a sold-out Go Media Stadium, he and the squad aren't viewing the clash with the ladder in mind.
"I think everyone is sort of saying 'well they've done really well but they haven't taken down a top-four side yet'," Webster said of his side.
"We're not talking about this as a top-four challenge, we are just talking about [South Sydney] being a very good team and we want to beat them.
"There is no expectation around where we finish... our goal at the start of the year was to win the comp and to do that we said we have got to win as many games as possible."