Frank Winterstein says a happy family life and the positive influence of Manly Coach Trent Barrett were major factors in the hard working second-rower enjoying a fine season in 2017.
Winterstein played all 25 games for the Sea Eagles in his first full season in the maroon and white after making his debut for Manly in round 24 last year.
He joined the Sea Eagles after missing out on selection in the Australian Men’s Rio Sevens Olympics rugby squad.
Winterstein’s efforts in 2017 saw him sign a new two-year-deal with the Sea Eagles as well as making the Samoan squad for the Rugby League World Cup starting later this month.
He credits the strong support from wife, Taylor, and his family, for part of his success this season.
“The old saying ‘behind every strong man is a stronger woman’ is very true. I have been very blessed,’’ he said.
“Taylor has been very supportive of my career and has sacrificed plenty. Our little boy, Ziggy, is almost two.
“From a rugby league fan’s perspective, they only see us on the field for 80 minutes each week, but there is so much sacrifice, time, and effort in getting us to where we want to be.
“Without those strong pillars to stand on at home, it does make things very difficult.
“Being happy at home certainly helped my footy this year. I didn’t miss a game, from the Auckland Nines, to the elimination final.
“It is something I can build on for next year. I’m looking forward to coming back to pre-season training to keep improving my game.
“As a professional athlete, that’s what you want to keep doing. Lifting that bar and raising it each and every week.”
Having played professional rugby union and rugby league, both locally and overseas, throughout his career, the 30 year-old understands the importance of a positive culture in a footy club.
It is why he credits Barrett for not only improving his game, but also for making him a better person.
“Trent is one of the main reasons why I flourished this season. He is such a great leader and really is a people’s person. He knows how to motivate you,’’ Winterstein added.
“He also wants to improve you as a person off the field. He knows that by doing this, the footy you are capable of will come. ‘Baz’ has brought out the best in me.
“Where we came from 12 months ago to where we are now as a team has been incredible. We know there is so much more left in us and we are going to give 2018 season a real, red hot go.
“We will come back bigger and better.”
For Winterstein, his immediate focus is representing Samoa with pride. Their first match is against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday, October 28.
“My last rugby league game before I went to rugby union was with Samoa at the 2013 World Cup over in the UK,’’ he said.
“It is another dream come true. I know my parents, my family, and everyone back in the villages of Samoa where my family are from would be proud. To pull on the blue Samoa jersey is something very special.”
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