While NZ Warriors fans don't have to look far to find players in career-best form this year, one of their most understated has picked up the tag of "unsung hero" from his teammates.  

Off-contract and looking likely to leave the club in 2024, Bayley Sironen has become a mainstay in the Warriors' ranks, even if he's yet to start a game in 2023.

The 26-year-old has played 24 of the Warriors' 26 games this season - coming off the bench in all of them.

Sironen is rugby league royalty, as the son of former Balmain Tigers, New South Wales and Australia forward Paul Sironen.

Under coach Andrew Webster, the interchange bench has been a key component in the run that sees the Warriors this week playing for a spot in the Grand Final, with a visit to Brisbane to face the Broncos on Saturday.

The likes of Sironen, Dylan Walker, Josh Curran and Jazz Tevaga in particular have become key weapons off the bench, while most players would be disheartened at not starting week in, week out.

That won't change against the Broncos either, as the Warriors named an unchanged starting 13 to face Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.

Off the bench this year, Sironen has made 417 tackles at over 91 percent success rate, as well as scoring twice, including the game-clincher in last week's victory over Newcastle Knights.

However, as the Warriors tighten their purse strings for 2024 and beyond, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Chanel Harris-Tavita both returning to Mt Smart, Sironen might be the unlucky man to make way to keep in line with the NRL's salary cap.

But for Walker, who will likely contend for the NRL's interchange of the season Dally M award himself, Sironen's efforts don't get the recognition deserved.   

"I thought our bench was really good [against Newcastle]," said Walker. "Especially Bayley Sironen.

"He's been a bit of an unsung hero, you need guys like that in your team who come out, do a job, and do it well.

"He's a fit bloke. He's got a good set of lungs on him. He works hard. He's just a footy player, it's hard to explain those terms to a lot of people, but he just gets football.

"He's probably grown up into it as well. It's very important going into any team that interchange goes on and makes an impact."

As his current contract with the Warriors ticks closer to expiration, Sironen is yet to be linked with a move to a rival NRL club, and could head north to England to join the Super League in 2024.   

Join Newshub from 9:30pm Saturday for live updates of NZ Warriors v Brisbane Broncos

2023-09-20T20:26:49Z dg43tfdfdgfd