Curtis Sironen looks back on the past few months with a level of excitement in his voice.
Unwanted by his former club Wests Tigers despite having two years to run on a contract, Sironen joined the Sea Eagles last November with a point to prove that at age 23, his best football was still ahead of him.
A strong pre-season combined with solid performances in the trials saw ‘Siro’ make his club debut for Manly in the second-row in the season opener against Parramatta at Lottoland.
He has not missed a game since for Manly and has made the number 12 jersey his own.
Sironen’s strong form saw him earn his fourth City Origin jersey this week.
“I feel like I am playing some of my best footy now. The last six to eight months have been massive for me, on and off the field. I am still working on a few things, but this City jersey means a lot,’’ Sironen said.
“I have gained so much confidence since I’ve come to Manly from the coaching staff. If things go a little bit wrong, I still have the confidence of everyone around me, and they put confidence in you. It just allows you to play the type of footy I am capable of.
“The City jersey is the highest level of footy I have played so far. I’m excited about this week, and the fact that it is the last City-Country game makes it even more special. I just hope I can do Manly proud.”
Sironen admitted Coach Trent Barrett has had a major influence on not just his game, but his life off the field.
“Trent just gives me so much confidence in my ability and as a person. If I do something wrong, or if I am out of line, he is just so honest,’’ Sironen said.
“I’m not saying I haven’t had that in the past, but I just have so much respect for him. He has changed me as a person and I am really happy where I am at the moment.
“There is a special feel around the place (at Narrabeen). I look forward every day to training and to see all of the characters at the club.
“How will I have fitted is a credit to the culture that the senior players and everyone has bought into. There are no egos and everyone is on the same level.
“There is just a really good feel. I am just excited about where this team could go. I haven’t had a feeling like this for a while.”
Sironen also took time to praise his team-mate in outstanding young centre Brian Kelly on making the Country Origin team for the clash against Mudgee.
“I am so happy for Brian. When he first came down from Ballina, I got to stay with him for a couple of weeks over at Collaroy during the pre-season as I was commuting each day,’’ Sironen said.
“We got on really well and I have family in Ballina who have a history with him. ‘BK’ has just been killing it for us. He has been so consistent.
“He is so humble and everyone likes him. There wouldn’t be anyone out there with a bad word to say about him.
“I can’t wait to play against him. He will definitely cause us a few dramas.
“I wish nothing but the best for him.”