Kiwis first priority for Ah Mau
As the Warriors’ only major signing for 2019, prop Leeson Ah Mau has a significant role to play next season but his importance has only increased following developments this week.
James Gavet’s departure to the Knights, added to the retirement of club legend Simon Mannering last season, has left a void in the middle at the Warriors.
The club may eventually go into the market for a forward to replace Gavet, who made 19 appearances last season, but in Ah Mau it has a man tailor-made to carry the load.
After playing two games for the Warriors in 2009 followed by a twoyear stint at the Cowboys, Ah Mau has been a mainstay of the Dragons pack since 2012 and returns to Auckland on the back of one of the best seasons of his career.
Big and durable, the 28-year-old’s ability to churn through the metres post-contact stood out as he averaged more than 110 metres across 25 games.
They are also getting an experienced campaigner, with 179 NRL appearances behind him, which has only been enhanced by his time with the Kiwis this year.
After playing 16 tests for Samoa, the Auckland-born forward made his New Zealand debut in the Denver test before producing a powerful 25-minute cameo in last month’s upset over Australia.
Ah Mau backed that up with 125m off the bench in the first test against England although he could not produce the same impact last week as the Kiwis conceded the series at Anfield.
Ah Mau is excited about the prospect of taking his family back to New Zealand and returning to where it all began but his immediate focus is on finishing the season on the right note with the Kiwis.
The Kiwis are rebuilding under Michael Maguire and while they have played well in patches against England, it is the home team that has dominated the big moments to take an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
‘‘[There has been] a lot of good stuff but at the same time it’s just little things like errors and completions that has cost us,’’ Ah Mau said. ‘‘It’s been pretty disappointing the last two weeks but
we’re pretty positive this week and looking forward to the game.’’
Ah Mau is among a new batch of players introduced to the national side by Maguire and he has relished working under the new Wests Tigers coach.
Despite the lack of results, all of the squad members have spoken highly of the team culture Maguire has created.
And they are determined not to let the coach down by leaving the UK on the receiving end of a 3-0 whitewash.
‘‘Everyone just loves playing for him because he cares a lot for the players and you definitely want to do well,’’ Ah Mau said.
‘‘It’s a credit to ‘Madge’ [Maguire] and the coaching staff. The environment they’ve created, everyone’s welcome and we’re a really tight group.’’
Leeson Ah Mau will begin his three-year deal with the Warriors when he returns from Kiwis duty in England.