Rich Company In Warriors Halves Club
As a part of the New Zealand Warriors halves club, Mason Lino is wonderful company.
Shaun Johnson is fast becoming the most dominant Kiwi player since Stacey Jones, while Kieran Foran on his day is one of the best five-eighths in the world. Throw in 20-year-old young-gun and good friend Ata Hingano, and Lino has a fine group of players to work with.
The Warriors halves pairing at the moment is Johnson and Hingano, and as much as Lino wants to make an NRL jersey his own, he has nothing but praise for his Intrust Super Premiership NSW halves partner of 2016.
“[Hingano] is another superstar, I’m telling you,” Lino says to NSWRL.com.au.
“He’s playing really good footy and had a really good pre season; he’s a good mate of mine and I’m happy he’s playing well, but he’s just another guy I’ve got to compete against now.
“[Johnson and Foran] have helped me out a lot, I’ve still got a lot to work on, especially how to control a game, but being with them every day of the week is definitely helping my game.”
If the ability to control a game was the focus for Lino over the summer, then the hard work has certainly paid off in the opening three rounds.
The Warriors have accumulated 124 points to start the season, with their three victories much to the credit of Lino, who has stood out in each game.
He has, however, been disappointed with his side’s inability to finish off a game after accruing an early lead.
“The boys have been pretty good in these three weeks, our big boys have been good at getting us forward,” Lino says.
“The only thing we’ve got to work on is those second halves, we’ve been poor in the last few weeks, but the good thing is that we got the two points and get to do it all again next week.”
Their most impressive win came yesterday against the Wests Tigers, due to the fact they not only won away from home, but also did not let in a point.
He credits new coach Ricky Henry for the positive start to the year, as he had big shoes to fill with Stacey Jones stepping out of the role at the end of 2015.
With the Warriors NRL team only having recorded one victory this year, Lino is knocking on the door to add to his three first grade appearances.
“That was a big positive keeping a team to nil, but again we could have put a bit more points on them, it’s something we can work on next week,” Lino says.
“Ricky is just as good [as Jones], he loves the boys and the boys love him, he’s an easy guy that keeps our game plan really simple, which helps our game.”
“I think last year a lot of our full time players were injured at the start of the year and this year we managed to have the full squad.
“I guess that’s a positive of why we’ve got a few good wins under our belt, but it’s about finding consistency in our game and hopefully get better.”