The wrecking machine corridor sweeper – Ben Murdoch-Masila’s Warrington exit is a bigger blow than you know

Watch Ben Murdoch-Masila in action for a short while and it quickly becomes apparent what Warrington are set to lose at the end of the season.

His explosive, barnstorming carries have wreaked havoc in Super League for years. His ferocity defensively is feared across the competition. His ability to skittle defenders and swat them away is revered by his peers.

When the Tonga international makes the move to the NRL with New Zealand Warriors at the end of the campaign, there will be a void in the Wolves lineup, and a large one at that given his mammoth figure.
But while Murdoch-Masila’s skillset is anything but subtle, there are other attributes he brings to the club which are hidden behind the scenes.

The 29-year-old is a culture-driver. There is no ego alongside his talent. On gameday, his job doesn’t finish after the final hooter. After every game at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Murdoch-Masila sweeps the corridors and the changing rooms. He’s not asked to do it. He’s not expected to do it. He does it because he wants to. He’d also rather you didn’t know, but he’s also too polite not to answer despite initially not wanting to talk about it.

“I know who cleans up here and I know it’s a job, but I just want to put a smile on their face,” he explains.

“When they get to the sheds and there’s nothing to clean, I picture the smile on their faces.

“I’m trying to get the whole team to do it actually. When the boys see me do it they jump up and help out. It creates good habits, you want to come into a nice, tidy changing room and find it the way you found it. It’s the way I’ve been brought up, to make sure you clean up.

“I’m trying to create good habits. It’s just a matter of doing it consistently.”

Who takes on his cleaning duties won’t be the top of Steve Price’s priorities. But who takes over his role as an influential figure, both on and off the pitch, will no doubt be at the forefront of Price’s mind.

The Wolves chief was the first person Murdoch-Masila informed about his move to the Warriors once it was agreed.

“We were coming into round one and I asked if I could talk to him,” he recalls.

“We sat down, I think he kind of knew. I basically told him what was going on and why I was doing it so early. I told him I wanted to put it to one side and focus on Warrington.

“He took it on and told me I’m one of the nicest blokes in the team and that he appreciates my honesty. We both had teary eyes. I’m glad that all the coaching staff have always had good happy relationships with myself. They’re the kind of people you trust and want to work for.”

At 29, the Tonga international thought his opportunity to return to the NRL had gone. But his outstanding performances on the international stage, as well as in Warrington colours, have earned him another opportunity.

“It was difficult but I’ve never closed the door on going back to the NRL. I’ve always had the ambitions of going back.

“I thought my opportunity was lost, probably a year or two ago now, but now I’m just grateful for the opportunity. To get this chance, I can’t really describe it. It means a lot to not just myself but my family as well.

“I think it was the right time to go back home and one fo the reasons is my daughter is growing up here.

“It was time to take her home to show her what she’s missing out on, which is the family side. It was a hard decision to leave Warrington, a club I’ve come to love, just the way it’s run, even the owner, he gets in on everything, you can call him up and give him a chat. It’s always tough, but the chance to be with family all the time means a lot.”

Like Luke Thompson, who is also going to the NRL next year with Canterbury, Murdoch-Masila has made the decision to resolve his future early. Now, just like the Saints forward, he wants to end on a high.

“I wanted to get it out there nice and early so I could focus on Warrington Wovles for the rest of the year rather than it ligner in the back of your mind and people be talking about my future.

“I do owe this club a lot for what they’ve done for me. The past two years for myself have been the best in terms of injuries. The training and performance staff set up a training regime that really benefitted me. It doesn’t work when you’re flogging a dead horse. I’m doing my own specific training, I’ve knuckled down, stuck to my diet, lost a bit of weight and it’s really helped. Now I’m fit I want to repay, I love this club.

“To win a Grand Final would be one of the highlights of my career. To be the first Wire team to hold the trophy would be a dream come true and we would go down in history. We spoke about it in pre-season camps, to make history. That’s how I want to end.”