Rugby league: The driving force behind Warriors star Peta Hiku
's purple patch of form
Happy people make for good footballers.
Over the past month, Warriors centre Peta Hiku
has personified that notion. The 27-year-old has tapped into a rich vein of form, playing with plenty of energy and enthusiasm.
It hasn't gone unnoticed by head coach Todd Payten, who put Hiku
's purple patch down to one factor.
"I think he's been really strong in the past four weeks, and I've got no doubt that coincided with when his family arrived," Payten said.
"His form at the start of the year was a little inconsistent but he's found that consistency and I firmly believe he's much more settled off the park and he goes into the game with a clear focus."
In the Warriors' past five matches, Hiku
, who re-signed with the club for 2021 earlier in the week, is averaging 16 tackles per game with three misses and fewer than one handling error per game; all of which are improvements on his early-season form.
While he's been able to show better ball security and an improved defensive effort, his attacking production has not been impacted as he is still constantly surpassing the 100m mark in each game and has been both scoring tries and providing sensational try assists.
's play in recent weeks has reflected that of the Warriors, with the club emerging as a dark horse for the playoffs.
Through the first 11 rounds the Warriors were outscored 296-119. Since then, they have outscored opponents 120-80 in five matches including games against the league-leading Penrith Panthers, two-time defending champion Sydney Roosters and the seventh-placed Newcastle Knights.
With four matches remaining, the Warriors sit in 10th place, four points behind the Cronulla Sharks. The Warriors have a tough run home, with the Parramatta Eels, Sharks, Canberra Raiders and Manly Sea Eagles waiting on the schedule.
The match against the Sharks could prove to be pivotal in their quest to crack the top eight, however Payten wasn't letting the side think too far ahead.
"We've still got a way to go to make the finals. We definitely have to win this week, then we play Cronulla; they're the team we really need to peg back.
"Our first thought is this weekend, and whatever happens we just get on with it."
Warriors team to play the Eels:
, Adam Pompey
, Hayze Perham
, Peta Hiku
, Gerard Beale
, Kodi Nikorima
, Chanel Harris-Tavita
, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
, Karl Lawton
, Lachlan Burr
, Jack Murchie
, Tohu Harris Harris
, Jazz Tevaga
Interchange: Wayde Egan
, Adam Blair
, Josh Curran
, Isaiah Papali'i, Paul Turner
, Tom Ale
(two to be omitted)
Warriors coach Todd Payten has attributed the form of one of his stars to one thing.