Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Head of Football Bob Fulton believes Addin Fonua-Blake will make a big impact for the Kiwis in the World Cup.
Fonua-Blake has today been named in the New Zealand Kiwis squad alongside Sea Eagles team-mate and 16 Tests veteran Martin Taupau.
Fulton, a Rugby League Immortal, says Fonua-Blake has what it takes for the Kiwis.
“His selection is well deserved. Addin’s improvement as a player since joining the Sea Eagles has been amazing, culminating in his selection for the Kiwis,’’ Fulton said.
“In my view, he will force his way into the 17 for New Zealand’s major games.”
Fonua-Blake, who recently had his Sea Eagles contract extended for a further two years until the end of 2020 season, was overwhelmed by his selection in the squad.
Twelve months ago, the 21-year-old missed selection for the Four Nations team after being part of the Kiwis train-on squad.
“It is a good feeling. A few injuries came about and my name was put forward, and I got the call up.
“When I got the call that I was in, I was lost for words at the time.
“I’m looking forward to playing in whatever games I can get and use the World Cup as a stepping stone for more rep games in the future.
“I just want to put my best foot forward. It will be good having Marty there with me as well. I will be able to get a few tips off him about what it is like at that level and will be able to work closely with him, so it will be good.”
Fonua-Blake said the strong support network around him has made the powerful front-rower a much better person and player in 2017. He played 22 matches this season and further developed his game under Coach Trent Barrett.
“Trent has helped me so much in my personal life,’’ Fonua-Blake said.
“I will be forever grateful for his support, as is my family.
“Trent has helped me to be a much better player too. Before I was pretty much a one dimensional prop but since playing under him, I feel I can ball-play a bit better now.
“He is a good mate, and a great teacher at the same time.”
Fonua-Blake also paid tribute to the strong support of partner, Ana.
“She has been amazing. Ana has done so much for me this year. It is a big ask to be an NRL player as it is so time demanding,’’ Fonua-Blake said.
“We have two kids, aged 2 and 3, who need a lot of attention. For her to take on that job most of the year by herself because of the training and the amount of travelling we do, all these things you have to factor in. For her to do it, and not to complain about it once, it is a big thing for me.
“It just makes my job so much easier, knowing I have a more stable life and partner at home. Trent went out of his way to make sure the wives and partners all felt a part of the club this year.
“Ana is so supportive of me as is a lot of the boys’ partners. That went a long way in helping the boys achieve what we did.”
Fonua-Blake said the mateship amongst the playing group was as close as it had experienced.
“We wanted more of that this year – to enjoy each other’s company because in a team, you can have packs that go separate ways,’’ he added.
“The more it gets like that, the more an individual will play for himself.
“This year, we were one big united pack and we had one goal, and that was to play finals footy, and we did that.
“It was disappointing to bow out the way we did but that will make us only bigger and better next year.”