Ngani Laumape

  1. mt.wellington
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    mt.wellington DIE FOR TONGA Contributor

    Laumape's star is on rise

    By Michael Burgess
    5:30 AM Sunday Apr 7, 2013
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    Ngani Laumape has not looked overawed in his first two NRL games. Photo / Getty Images

    In the midst of a difficult start to the season for the Warriors, Ngani Laumape has been a breakthrough bonus.

    The NRL rookie enjoyed an outstanding debut in an otherwise forgettable day at Cronulla and gave another assured display on the wing in last week's vital victory over the Cowboys.

    Today he lines up at centre against the fearsome Rabbitohs backline - a rapid rise for a 19-year-old who had barely played league until his late teens.

    "He's definitely been a surprise packet for us," Warriors assistant coach Andrew McFadden tells the Herald on Sunday. "We had no expectations on Ngani - he was a young, raw kid. But he trains the house down and he is one of very few young players to have this fearless mentality - things don't seem to faze him. Whatever gets thrown in front of him, he sees it as a challenge and has a crack. His personality and attitude is the reason why he is doing so well."

    "I don't know how I found myself here," jests Laumape, as he looks around the plush new Warriors gym after a long training session. "It was a massive step up from the under-20s in terms of intensity and work ethic. But I was chasing something I really wanted to achieve.
    "My hard work has paid off so far. I know I am nowhere near there yet but I have enjoyed it and hope I'll be sticking around."

    Two NRL games doesn't make a career but Laumape has made a solid start. He looks comfortable when other debutants before him have been overawed. He has been solid in the air, forceful in possession and strong in defence.

    Today's selection is a big call; playing just your third NRL match in arguably the most defensively challenging position, against probably the most free-scoring team in the competition.

    While the unavailability of Dane Nielsen, Ben Henry and Dominique Peyroux has created a vacuum in the centres, the selection of Laumape when other, more experienced options were available demonstrates both the level of faith in the youngster and a commitment to the development strategy espoused heavily since 2012.

    "A lot of young players get overawed or intimidated going out against big names but he just sees it as another person and that's the way it should be," says McFadden. "He has really stepped up to the challenge and has earned his spot."

    "I want to challenge myself," says Laumape. "I wasn't going to back down to anyone just because they have a big name. I want to be myself; I know I have worked hard to get to where I was and had to believe in myself."

    Of Tongan heritage, Laumape grew up playing rugby and starred for the Palmerston North Boys' High 1st XV, mainly at centre but also in the back row. During his final years at school, he turned out for the Feilding Falcons ("once I had my first league game, I loved it") and was recruited by the Warriors for the 2012 Toyota Cup season. His Junior Warriors debut was delayed as he came back from a serious knee injury but he soon prospered and became an ever-present, scoring 16 tries in 20 games last year.

    He was brought into the Warriors NRL train-on squad and after some early struggles began to find his feet.
    "Our first impression wasn't very good and day one on the track [during pre-season], he probably didn't perform that well," says McFadden. "But he knew where he was back then and where he wanted to be."

    He impressed in the trials against Gold Coast and Penrith (Warriors coach Matt Elliott said after the Hamilton match that Laumape "looked like a first grader, didn't he?") and was solid for the Vulcans before getting his chance in round three.

    "After Matt Elliott told me [I was playing], I wanted to get off the phone and pinch myself to see if it was real or not," says Laumape. "I was overwhelmed. I couldn't believe it, as it came round so fast."

    Apart from his own ambitions, Laumape has had an additional motivation to succeed - his two-year-old daughter Maria, whom he had to leave behind when he signed with the Warriors.

    "I had to move away and leave my daughter in Palmerston North," says Laumape. "Once I was here, I knew there was no turning back. I didn't want to waste a year or two years being away from her and going back to Palmerston North with nothing. I knew I had to make the most of it."

    The 1.78m, 98kg Laumape is known as 'Little Nugget' around Mt Smart, a reference to his similarity in build, running style and approach to compatriot Konrad Hurrell, who carries the 'Nugget' moniker. As Hurrell discovered last year, things get tougher after your first few games, as NRL teams are quick to analyse and dissect capabilities.

    "No one knows about him now so it will get harder," agrees McFadden. "Teams will figure out how to defend him and if there are any weaknesses in his game. But he wants to learn and he will adapt to that. As long as he is playing good footy, he will stay in the mix. He has the right attitude."

    - Herald on Sunday

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    Ngani Laumape bright spark in Warriors' loss

    Guy Heveldt, Newstalk ZB April 8, 2013, 6:43 am

    The Warriors are taking one major bright spark from the agonising loss to the Rabbitohs at Mount Smart Stadium.

    They have fallen 24-22 to Souths after giving up a late lead having earlier fought back from a 12-nil deficit.

    But coach Matt Elliott says it is not all bad, unearthing the talents of 19-year-old wing Ngani Laumape.

    "I'm looking forward to a day when I can name the same team one week to the next and actually put them out on the field.

    "But there is an upside to it, is that you're giving guys like Ngani an opportunity and other guys are getting a feel for what our structure's like."

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    Everything I hear and see about this kid all positive. Im really starting to warm to him and truly believe he may have a good future ahead of him. At times you hear the coaching staff harp on about certain players but fail to see it produce results but I like what I see from Ngani. He's got a good basic understanding of defence, runs hard at every hitup and is always busy.
    What Im wondering though is once Fish and Danger come back, where does he fit into the team. Personally Id like to see him in somewhere in the backline. Im a big believer in rewarding players who perform and he has done so at every opportunity IMO. I'd like to see Matt Elliott reward him with selection but for that to happen someone has to go. Question is, who???
     

  2. greenie
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    greenie U20's Player

    It's a tough call but on current form, I'd keep Laumape in at the expense of Fish. He does provide a more interesting option for when Konrad is out of form like he seems to be every now and then. Laumape has a lot more going on in D.
     
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  3. mt.wellington
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    mt.wellington DIE FOR TONGA Contributor

    Thats definately the way Im leaning. Thing is that Fish has been going okay himself but I just feel Laumape has alot more to offer...
     
  4. greenie
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    greenie U20's Player

    Yeah, it's sad because Fish 2013 is a whale of a player compared to the past, but Laumape has pretty much made no mistakes so far, and thrived against some very tough teams. Fish would be the number one wing/FB reserve anyway so he still has a place at the club. It's not as if the NRL is short of wingers and FBs.
     
  5. Hitman82
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    Hitman82 1st Grade Fringe

    My opinion is, unless you are Ben Matulino, Kevin Locke or Shaun Johnson, form owns the jersey. Ngani is one of our top performing players right now, and Nielsen should take another spot or wait for a vacancy to come up.

    Round 3: (wing)
    13 runs
    116m
    1 tacklebreak
    4 tackles
    1 missed
    1 kick (resulted in another set for us)

    Round 4: (wing)
    13 runs
    113m
    2 tacklebreaks
    8 tackles
    1 missed
    1 error

    Round 5: (centre)
    13 runs
    120m
    1 try
    3 tacklebreaks
    1 line break
    1 offload
    6 tackles
    2 missed
    1 error

    ...Laumape is improving every game, and had his best game to date in his natural position of centre, appears to have the skills to play anywhere in the backline. Right now he screams future star. He's going to be awesome for Tonga at the world cup - hopefully.
     
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  6. Raurimu Massive
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    Raurimu Massive 1st Grade Fringe

    To take care of the problem of which players to put into first grade, I wouldn't mind seeing a rotation of Low Mappy, Hurrell and Fish between the first grade and the Vulcans. I'd only want that if time in the Vulcs was specifically used to reinforce what they need to work on in the Warriors (eg using it to brush up Hurrell's D) and to give their younger bodies a break from the rigours of the NRL. Hell, I'd even be happy for there to be some rotation in the halves and second row as well.

    It's becoming more and more important that we have really good depth and injury cover. I don't think going down to reserve grade should necessarily seen as a threat for non-performance, and we need to start taking advantage of that grade. Once we have depth, I'd really love to see the day when we don't have to rush players back from injury.

    Top football teams in England have to rest players from games and rely on a good rotation, simply because of the number of games played; Major League Baseball is the same. Our boys play fewer games, but obviously it's far more brutal on their bodies. I'd like to see that minimised so we nearly always have a fully fit team on the field, instead of players taking the field when injuries are obviously stopping them from playing at 100%.

    Rotation would also mean that we don't have great talent becoming too used to playing against a lesser tier of opponent, then struggling to foot it with the first grade team if they have to fill in for injured players. Good players wouldn't necessarily feel they were wasting their time in reserve grade either.

    I also think our reserve grade should train as much as possible with the first grade, with the same mindset, and under the guidance (not interference) of the head coach.
     
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  7. gREVUS
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    gREVUS Long live the Rainbows and Butterflies

    2 things

    1. we need to protect all our players as much as possible, cause when they start kicking the drug cheats out (see you forgot about that didn't you) they have a plan to make and entirely new team out of players listed 16 to 25 to fill any created gaps, the alternative is they default on their TV commitments and lose all their mola.

    2. Neilson has to be back in the team, he was bought specifically to fix the left hand sides issues. Laumape is really competing with Hurrell, Tupou and Fish. Based on form seen in first grade games I would drop Hurrell and Tupou and play Laumape and Fish. A better defensive pairing and possibly a smarter attacking option. But realistically I would put them in due to the offering they make on defence. This provides two strong defensive wings but with attacking flair and speed on both sides. Hurrell and Tupou become injury cover.
     
  8. Hitman82
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    Hitman82 1st Grade Fringe

    After our best game of the season, I would change SFA. Lillyman in for the injured Taylor, the rest remain as per Sunday.
     

  9. gREVUS
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    gREVUS Long live the Rainbows and Butterflies

    See I disagree because it may have been our best played game of the season so far, but the warriors didn't win.
     
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  10. Numbnutsnz
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    Numbnutsnz 1st Grade Fringe

    How can you have Fish in there based on form? He's barely played and when he has he's been ordinary. You can't have seen him attempt to tackle much either if you are having him in there on his defensive capabilities. Lord knows he has got all the speed in the world but other than that his tackling and positional play is average at best.
     
  11. mt.wellington
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    mt.wellington DIE FOR TONGA Contributor

    It was definately our best game in 8 months. I get we didnt win but the effort was finally there. They played as a team and after the shambles of the second half of last year it was a complete revelation.
     
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  12. gREVUS
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    gREVUS Long live the Rainbows and Butterflies

    I just want more
     
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  13. OMG
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    OMG Warriors 1st Grader

    Different team, I didn't recognise the structure at all, such a stark contrast compared to what we have become used to, the football being used constructively not just panic passing. Where did they come from?
     
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  14. Apus
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    Apus 1st Grade Fringe

    Elliot said he wasn't seeing what he saw in training coming through on game day the other week. Guess he wasn't lying.
     
  15. Blain
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    Blain 1st Grade Fringe

    Just because you make changes doesn't mean a team will get better. That's pretty short sighted. Really it's the other way, the more a team sticks together and works out whats works is what improves the side as a whole.
     
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  16. Paleaaesina2the20
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    Paleaaesina2the20 1st Grade Fringe

    I think he is in our best starting 13 when everyone is fit. I think a player like him who has the complete game has more value on the wing, because his production was very similar on the wing as it was at centre (I respect that the sample size is small). Wings that work hard on attack and are solid on Def like him are hard to come by, its the reason Nightingale and Perrett are rated so highly even though they aren't "flashy".

    I am a big Fish fan, but Laumape has him covered.
     
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  17. OMG
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    OMG Warriors 1st Grader

    Did no one watch the 20s? I thought there would be a mention somewhere.
    There are some very very classy young backs at the club at the moment.
    Hikutai who was as good as Mape last year at centre looked wow at Fullback and centre Kata is like a mini Hurrell with skills and defence, add in Fusitua and their wings are pretty decent, probably the best backline I have seen the U20s have.
    They will go close again this year after a shakey start.
     
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  18. Raurimu Massive
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    Raurimu Massive 1st Grade Fringe

    Good to hear mate - I've had most of my weekend time taken up with painting/fixing my damned house, so I've missed both Vulcans games and seen bugger all of the Juniors. Nice that they're not just focussing on steamrollers.
     
  19. OMG
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    OMG Warriors 1st Grader

    At least 6-8 stand out players in there, Fusitua is very very athletic. Hikutai's defence was outstanding, only 5 tackles but big ones all in the first half and he was amazing with ball in hand, Kata the same, The score line flattered them a bit because the first half was tight.
     
  20. Manu's mistake
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    Manu's mistake U20's Player

    After watching the trial against Penrith and the way he fixed his side up when he came on,I made him my player to watch in 2013.After a couple of years of indecision on our edges,he's a breath of fresh air and long may he continue.
     
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