With two different Test jerseys to his name, prop Addin Fonua-Blake is as confident as ever about becoming a leader in his third year at the Sea Eagles.
And it’s the next group of talented young forwards coming through that Fonua-Blake sees himself helping more of on the back of a World Cup for New Zealand that saw him learn as much off the field as he did on it.
The World Cup was a great experience. It was great getting to know the likes of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Shaun Johnson, and Roger Tuivasa-SheckAddin Fonua-Blake
“I learnt so much from them, especially Jared and his professionalism in the way he carries himself before and after a game. At training, he is always looking to do extras.
“For me as a young guy coming up through the ranks, it was a good opportunity to see what he does. He has been very successful in keeping his Test jersey. If I can do the same things, maybe I can keep my jersey.”
Fonua-Blake’s jersey came in the big win over Scotland at Christchurch. It was a proud moment for his Tongan mother, who was born in Auckland.
The Kiwis jersey now sits alongside his Tongan Test jersey after representing his father’s country in May.
“It was a bit overwhelming at first when (Coach) David Kidwell told me after the game against Samoa that I would be making my Test debut for the Kiwis,’’ Fonua-Blake said.
With 36 NRL games under his belt for Manly, Fonua-Blake is loving life at the Sea Eagles. The tough prop is highly regarded by his team-mates who not only like the hard metres he makes each week, but enjoy his larger than life personality.
You can’t always be too serious at training at times. You have got to mix some of the serious stuff up with a few laughs
“It helps brings the best out in everyone. I’m just here to do my best for the club each week and to also be a good leader for the younger boys coming through.”
Asked who had impressed him with their attitude and work-rate, Fonua-Blake named three very promising youngsters.
“Manase Fainu, Taniela Paseka, and Haumole Olakau’atu have been very good,’’ he said.
“We have extras in the morning before training and they come in and rip in. They are leaving their homes at 4.30am. Some of us are still sleeping at that time.
“For them to keep ripping in every day and not complain about being tired shows how far they have come and how far they are going to go.”
Sea Eagles Coach Trent Barrett said part of the key to Fonua-Blake becoming a leader was making sure he does the right thing all of the time.
“Addin is a kid who needs responsibility. When he talks, he has to hold himself accountable for what he is saying,’’ Barrett said.
“The young Polynesian kids do look up to him at training, so it is even more important he is doing the right thing. He has come on a hell of a lot in the last couple of years.
“We have to remember Addin is a 22-year-old front-rower who is still learning how to be a smart prop, how to get yourself through games, and how to be a professional. Our job is to teach him that.
“The sky is the limit for Addin. Ability, size, and agility won’t hold him back. He just has to make that decision to be the best he can be every day. He has unlimited potential.”