For Kelepi Tanginoa, Friday’s opening round clash against Newcastle is about re-establishing his NRL career.
Whist most of the pre-game talk is centred on Manly facing a hostile crowd against a new look Knights line-up in 2018, the focus for Tanginoa is about making the most of the opportunity given to him by Coach Trent Barrett.
It is the second show of faith from Barrett, who gave Tanginoa his Manly debut in the round 22 win over the Sydney Roosters at Lottoland last season after joining the Sea Eagles in July from Parramatta.
Barrett liked what he saw in Tanginoa. It was enough for the forward to sign a new one-year deal for 2018.
To top off an enjoyable back end of the year, Tanginoa also became a proud father in November following the birth of his first child, a daughter named Noah.
Barrett has again shown his confidence in Tanginoa after impressing him during pre-season training and in the trials with a jersey for the Knights game. It will be just his second game for Manly and his 18th in the NRL.
I want to take this opportunity with two hands. I have been on the fringes for the last few years and haven’t made itKelepi Tanginoa
“It will be a full house up there. Newcastle is in the spotlight at the moment with the squad they have but I am just focused on worrying about what we have to do (to win).
“I want to have a good game. This is my chance to show that I have really earnt this spot.”
The solidly built forward is also doing his best to offload the unwanted new nick-name of the ‘block of units’. He can lift 185kg in the gym and is now regarded as the strongest man at Manly ahead of Martin Taupau.
“I just heard it today. I think you guys (media) came up with it,’’ Tanginoa said.
“I’ve had a good pre-season. I just (want) to go and rip in.”