The opportunity to train daily with the NRL squad is helping rising young centre Tevita Funa to make smarter decisions.
Funa is one of seven young players from the Sea Eagles’ premiership winning U20s team of 2017 now in the full-time NRL squad with Manly this season.
A quietly spoken, young man, Funa is enjoying the transition from ‘part-time’ footballer to full-time athlete. He previously worked as a concrete labourer with Manase Fainu in between training with the senior squad.
The thought of leaving home at 4.30am to again work as a labourer is driving Funa hard in his ambition to make his NRL debut. One of seven children, he knows 2019 is an opportunity for him to make a strong impact on the field and supporting his family at the same time.
“Being in the NRL squad means I can be a true full-time athlete. It is not just about training at Narrabeen and then going home,’’ Funa said.
“It is about my preparation and making sure I do everything right such as what I eat, ensuring I get enough sleep, to doing stretching exercises in my downtime.
“In the past when I had free time, I would have been playing video games and relaxing. But now I use the time to the best of my ability to ensure I become a better player and person.
“I feel a lot more confident in my own ability heading into this season compared to last year. I found it tough going mentally after undergoing a knee reconstruction the previous year.
“Things weren’t going well for me but through my faith, God has pulled me through the dark times. Everything is now starting to fall back into place.”
The 21-year-old said he enjoyed the opportunity to play senior football in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW competition last season for Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles after tasting success in the U20s.
“Playing in the Intrust made me come out of my shell. It was good to step up to the next level and play against more hardened players,’’ Funa said.
“Everything about the game at that level is different from what I experienced in the 20s, from the speed of the game, to the physical side. The players are more mature and it is a great way to test yourself.”