Ronaldo Mulitalo has no plans to stop chirping on the field anytime soon, but admits last season taught him there are times when his verbal stoushes with opponents do him and his team more harm than good.
Well known for his ability to get under the skin of opponents through the first four seasons of his NRL career, things changed for the Kiwi international when he came out on the wrong side of a back and forth with Warriors wing Ed Kosi in Round 5 of the 2023 campaign.
After bagging an early try to help his side lead 20-0 after 19 minutes, Mulitalo clashed with Kosi on a number of occasions but later went on to make a handful of key errors, as Cronulla collapsed in spectacular fashion to lose 32-30.
“Ed Kosi is probably one of those games you look back on and go, ‘oh far out’,” Mulitalo told NRL.com.
“I enjoyed that battle because it exposed me and some of the flaws I had in my game. In a good way though, I don’t look at it as a negative, it exposed me in ways that I needed to fix my game, in ways I needed to mature.
I look back at it and some of the things in that game I probably wasn’t proud of... I probably tried to play that mental game too much with him and obviously it backfired.Ronaldo Mulitalo
“If you are going to bark you have got to be able to back it up.
“I was really into [the mental games] at the start... but then I think everyone was kind of expecting it and they were leaning into it as well, so it was working against me instead of with me.
"If you're doing stuff like that you have got to be able to be mature and identify that and change your game.”
After scoring a career-high 21 tries in the 2023 NRL season, Mulitalo backed it up with a stellar campaign for the Kiwis as they won the inaugural Pacific Championships, crossing for four tries in three games.
Despite a remarkable strike rate of 25 tries in 26 games for the calendar year, the 24-year-old feels he still could have been much better in 2023, particularly through the early rounds of the Telstra Premiership.
“I probably had a bit of fatigue after the World Cup [at the end of 2022]. It was a long year last year and it was my first year of playing a full season and then going into Test footy,” he said.
Mulitalo makes his mark
“It’s one of those things too that when the team wasn’t playing well [for parts of the season] it’d just have a flow on effect, and it only takes a couple to not be playing well.
"Whether it was my best year or not I don’t know, and I don't think about that stuff too much."