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I played my 100th NRL game this year and it’s something I’m really proud of.


I didn’t really grow up playing footy all that much. The ambition to play professional rugby league really started when I was in prison.  We used to play a game called Crash, which was pretty much just taking hit-ups on concrete, and I loved it. Some of the boys nicknamed me Roy Asotasi because of the way I played. I didn’t know who he was.


I set myself the goal of playing in the NRL once I got out.  It wasn’t easy. Unlike all the kids who grew up playing the game, I didn’t really understand what my job was.


I was ashamed to ask people the basic questions about the game because of my age. Like, it took me three or four years to understand what a pivot was. And the spine! When people would talk about it, I would just nod along and pretended I knew what it meant and hoped no one would ask me any questions.


I had to become a sponge and pick up as much as I could. That continued right through into the NRL. When I debuted with the Warriors, there were parts of the gameplan I didn’t understand. It completely different at the NRL to grassroots. It’s very technical at the top. I had to do a lot of homework.



I’m grateful to rugby league for the chance it gave me to turn my life around. It has given me a platform to meet people and share my message. It’s a dream just playing the game – who wouldn’t want a job like that? – but the opportunities really just start there.


I’m grateful to Tyran Smith, who is more a life coach than a manager. He called me when I was working fulltime as a delivery driver for Taylors Laundry, moving linen around Auckland, and playing club footy on the weekend. I couldn’t travel at the time because of my criminal record and most managers didn’t want a bar of me. But Tyran said, ‘You need a manager to help you out now, not when you get your visa.’ I’ve been with him ever since. He’s a man of integrity. I’ve learned so much from him.


More than anything, though, I am grateful to my family. Fai stuck by me through all the bad times and now we have four kids together – Malili and the three boys Christopher, Daniel and Azariah.


When we first left New Zealand for Australia, it was pretty scary. Everything was uncharted for us. We didn’t know what the future would hold. We look back now and think of it as one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. It’s been an awesome period in our lives.


The message is pretty simple: No matter how messed up your life is, there’s hope.


And now we’re about to do it all over again in the UK. There’s definitely a mixture of nerves and excitement, but at least this time we know we’ve done a version of this before. We sat down as a family and discussed everything about what the move would mean before I signed the contract with Huddersfield. There will obviously be challenges – Malili will be starting high school in the UK and we’ll all be leaving friends behind – but we all agreed that we were up for the adventure.


I’ve just got back from eight weeks in the UK getting us all set up. I’ve found us a nice four-bedroom home in Lindley, which is only a couple of minutes from Huddersfield, with plenty of space. They tell me when it snows hard you can’t leave the house, so I made sure we found somewhere where the kids could run around inside a bit.


The club have been really helpful. They’ve made the transition as easy as it could be.


I’m very thankful for the chance they’ve given me and I can’t wait to begin my next chapter in the Super League.


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