TEEN SENSATION KEEPS WARRIORS’ HALVES ON NOTICE
Written by JOE McDONOUGH, April 23, 2016
THE WARRIORS may be pitting veteran Thomas Leuluai in the halves with Shaun Johnson but if that doesn’t pan out Andrew McFadden has another very strong option in young gun Ata Hingano.
Hingano is still young enough to run around in Holden Cup, but he’s been promoted to reserve grade to prepare him for the bruising physicality of the NRL. And under the watchful eye of Warriors NSW Cup coach Stacey Jones, Hingano isn’t just competing against the older guys, he’s dominating.
RLW was at North Sydney Oval two weeks ago as Hingano tore the Bears to shreds. The No.6 scored a try, set up another and made line-breaks at will in their 30-12 win.
Jones wouldn’t be surprised to see the 19-year-old crack the NRL this season, particularly with the season-ending injury to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck which has forced Tuimoala Lolohea to shift back to fullback.
“I don’t think we need to rush him in at this stage, but who knows? At some stage this season if he’s playing decent footy in NSW Cup then ‘Cappy’ [McFadden] might decide to give him a run,” the NZ great says.
“He’s someone we’re trying to put a lot of time into. He’s got a lot of skill about him, he loves to carry the ball and he’s got a really good left-foot kick, which takes the pressure off any team.
“NSW Cup is a similar speed to Holden Cup but obviously more physical, and Ata has handled the step up really well.
“He just needs to string a few of these performances together for us to be considered.”
Hingano took on the defensive line regularly and he says that’s something McFadden has challenged him to do.
“[McFadden] is always talking to me about different ways I can improve my game,” he reveals.
“Two weeks ago I didn’t really have a strong running game and he took me up about it. Having him and Stacey is a major help, especially in my position, it definitely makes it easier.”