3 days ago
Youngster Lance Hohaia's start to his second National Rugby League season with the New Zealand Warriors hasn't quite gone as he expected.
The stand-off, who turns 20 next week, had planned to ease his way into the new campaign.
Instead, Hohaia, who will again wear the No 6 jersey when the Warriors visit Manly on Saturday night, has already grabbed four tries after just two rounds.
"It has been a bit different from what I was figuring," he said.
"I thought it would be a case of fitting into a role a little more quietly and then playing a bit better.
"As it has happened, I've shot out of the blocks pretty quickly and now it's a matter of being consistent at that level."
Apart from his try-scoring, Hohaia has impressed in his general play, showing greater confidence in pursuing attacking options as well as some solid defence.
In the Warriors' 24-20 win over the Bulldogs last weekend, his ability to make light of his 1.71m frame to bring down giant 1.95m prop Willie Mason twice was among the highlights.
Hohaia said moving out along the defensive line to just inside the winger had suited him. "There's only one man outside me now to worry about and that's helped me," he said.
"It has given me more chance to go in a bit lower in the tackle and let the other guys go higher."
About the only blip is his performance against the Bulldogs was his miss in his sole shot at goal from close range.
Along with Stacey Jones, P J Marsh and Motu Tony, Hohaia is in a group that the Warriors are hoping will fill the big hole left by the departure of goal kicking ace Ivan Cleary.
But like Jones, Hohaia is recovering from a leg injury that has so far restricted his kicking practice.
Hohaia has faced Manly once before ? scoring a try in the 68-10 thrashing of the-then Northern Eagles in Auckland last April, a week after his NRL debut.
He missed the Warriors' upset 18-16 defeat in the return fixture five months later through a combination of recent injury and a drop in confidence.
With Manly in consolidation mode this year after the demise of their ill-fated merger with North Sydney, Hohaia said the Warriors were definitely eyeing two competition points.
"Not to take anything away from Manly, but we should beat sides like them," he said.
"We'll be disappointed not to come away with the win."
The Warriors' confidence has been boosted by the way they bounced back from their first-round defeat by Newcastle, against whom they let slip a 16-point lead, to down the Bulldogs.
"It was an important win because, after the loss to the Knights, the feeling in the camp wasn't a good one," Hohaia said.
"It was a matter of proving to everyone that we're a force to be reckoned with again this year."
Hohaia was sure the Warriors would not allow themselves to get caught up in the local hype surrounding the match ? the first for Manly back at their traditional home ground of Brookvale Oval.
"It's a big occasion for them, but we're not too worried about that," he said.
"Once we get on the field, it's just another game."