Warriors weaponise pack with rookie deal

Daniel Gilhooly

Isaiah Papali'i reckons the Warriors have hit the jackpot with their signing of young powerhouse Eliesa Katoa, the latest move in the construction of a more bruising pack.

The Kiwi club raised eyebrows this week by adding four years to the contract of 20-year-old second-rower Katoa off the back of just two first grade games in March.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck declared the former schoolboy rugby union star their man of the match in both losses, to Newcastle and Canberra, after tallying a combined total running metres in excess of 300m.

Both performances came as no surprise to Papali'i, who said Tongan-born Katoa had turned heads throughout the pre-season.

"What we've seen in the first few games is crazy man," Papali'i said.

"He's definitely led from the front with a lot of energy and he's really fit. I'm happy for him and happy for the club signing someone like that because I know already he's a big part of this team."

The Warriors are awaiting the arrival of another Tongan steamroller, Ben Murdoch-Masila, who begins a three-year deal next season.

One of the premier forwards in the Super League, Warrington enforcer Murdoch-Masila will add considerable bulk to the Warriors pack, an area they have trailed most clubs in recent seasons.

There have been multiple reports that strapping rookie Cronulla prop Toby Rudolf is also on the verge of a shift to Auckland in 2021, only adding to Papali'i's excitement at what lies ahead.

"I'm honestly not too sure about how things are going to change but I trust that the coaches will put in the right game plan and type of footy for us because they're definitely big boys and it's a pretty exciting future," he said.