An open, honest chat with former team-mate and new Manly Coach in Trent Barrett led to Siosaia Vave turning his playing career around.
Vave had played alongside Barrett at the Cronulla Sharks in 2010 in the former NSW and Australian five-eighth’s final season in the NRL before retiring.
The proud Tongan prop played at the Sharks in 2010-11 before joining the Melbourne Storm for the next two seasons. He then returned to the Sharks in 2014 before suffering a season ending pectoral injury.
The injury, combined with calf problems, saw Vave ‘behind the eight ball’ last year in his first season at the Sea Eagles. When he did return, it was a case of seeing the season out in the NSW Cup.
When Vave returned to pre-season training under Barrett, he weighed 130kg.
Fast forward to a fortnight before Christmas and the pair had a heartfelt chat about Vave’s future.
“Baz sat me down and told me that if I don’t come back after Christmas at my goal weight (117kg), I would have to hit the road. It was pretty straight up,’’ Vave said.
“He was going to ask me to leave, tell me to find another club. It was kind of hard for me at the time. It was a real surreal moment and an honest moment.
“I could have been digging holes right now.’’
Vave underwent extra gym training with team-mate Feleti Mateo during the Christmas break to lose the necessary kilos.
The 26-year-old changed his eating habits and swapped the fast food and soft drinks for a healthier diet.
“I (would) look at a Big Mac and I think I put on two kilos. I enjoyed myself a bit too hard over the off-season,’’ Vave said.
“Feleti and I worked hard over the Christmas break. I didn’t eat too much. It was kind of hard but it was good in the long run. I am now 118- 119kg.
“I had to start eating less portions. My portions sizes were pretty crazy. And my portion sizes going into late in the day, they had to become smaller.
“I was eating at the wrong times. I was (Eating) two chicken schnitzels with a side of mash at night.
Vave said he didn’t want to let Barrett down when he returned to training in early January. His efforts saw Barrett reward him with selection off the interchange bench for the past three NRL games. Vave has played 20-25 minutes per game.
“Baz told me that if I get my weight down, my football would look after itself,’’ Vave added.
“He said he could use me during the year but I can’t be playing at that weight. I had to get my weight down so I could try and put my best foot forward to make the (top) 17.
“It has made me appreciate being a first grader and being a football player. He made me open my eyes a bit more.”
Click here to watch the video player profile of Siosaia Vave.