A “more mature” Mahe Fonua has taken the Intrust Super Premiership NSW competition by storm since departing England and he’s determined to return to the NRL.
Fonua, who played 50 NRL matches for Melbourne from 2012-2015 before linking with Hull FC, has been one of the Intrust Super Premiership’s strongest performers in 2018 for Wests Tigers feeder side Western Suburbs Magpies, topping the competition in the metres-run category in both Round 1 and Round 2.
“It’s a good feeling to be back in Australia with family and close friends, and getting the opportunity to play back in the NRL – it’s good to be back home,” Fonua, who has already broken 15 tackles this season, tells NSWRL.com.au.
“I’m content with how I’m going at the moment. Obviously it’s not NRL standard though and if you want to push to be a part of the NRL you need to be a little more extraordinary in these games. I’m just trying to do what I can do to the best of my ability.”
Fonua was a standout in his time in England, selected in the Super League Dream Team in both 2016 and 2017, winning Challenge Cups both years, and says his time abroad changed him as a person.
“It was a great experience, I was lucky enough to be a part of a couple of silverware games over there and back-to-back Challenge Cups. I was really grateful for the time I got to spend in England – it let me mature as a person and as a player, building confidence playing in bigger matches over there week in and week out,” Fonua, who was strong in his side's Round 2 victory against Newcastle, says.
“Me and my wife were expecting our first daughter and she was born over in England, but being our first child we thought being close to home and close to family would be ideal – that was the main factor with coming home.
“Moving away from home, I’ve only lived at home and moved out at 22. Two weeks into our marriage, moving over to the other side of the world and it’s just me and my wife... with no family, we had to restart life – start fresh over there, take the reins for my family. I'm really grateful for my time over there…
“It’s a bit of a shock to the system (being a father), 2am wake-ups and changing nappies was a bit foreign to me but I’ve got a lovely wife who’s helped me the entire way right to now the baby’s seven months old… I’m very lucky.”
For the moment, though, Melbourne-born Fonua is focusing on doing all he can to help his Magpies win matches – and, eventually, returning to the NRL.
“Although I’m not in the NRL at the moment, I want to let Ivan [Cleary] know that I’m putting my hand up and pushing for a spot,” he says.
“I’m using these games as a stepping stone to put pressure on the outside backs in the NRL.
“I’m not here just to make up the numbers.”
Don't forget to catch NSWRL.com.au's in-depth video preview of the Intrust Super Premiership - Show 'N' Go. Click here to watch.