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Hasler expects Fonua-Blake to excel

Des Hasler stares down the camera and tells Manly Sea Eagles fans just what he expects prop Addin Fonua-Blake to produce in the 2019 Telstra Premiership season.

"I think you're going to see a really big season, a break-out season for Addin. He's really developing into a top-line front rower," Hasler told the Sea Eagles club website in a video interview this week.

"There is just something about Addin Fonua-Blake who's only so young … but already represented his nation being Tonga."

In truth Fonua-Blake has also represented New Zealand in the 2017 World Cup, but more on that later.

The Hasler praise was probably meant to prod Fonua-Blake into pushing himself that little bit more once again.

From 2017 to the 2018 season, he doubled his tackle-breaks, post-contact metres and off-loads.

He is into just his fourth year of NRL after turning 23 in the off-season. He also weighs 118kg and stands at 190cm.

Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake.
Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

"Same job just different year for me," Fonua-Blake said ahead of this week's round one meeting with the Wests Tigers on Saturday.

"I want to perform as best I can and Dessie has spent a lot of time this pre-season with me helping me and tipping me up on things I need to work on.

"I'm still really young and have got a lot to learn. I'm not where I want to be at the moment – still building towards being the best I can – but hopefully I'm taking steps in the right direction.

"The stats are going the right way so I'm looking forward to doing even better this year."

His front-row partner Marty Taupau is in the New Zealand national team and on Saturday at Leichhardt Oval he meets a few more Kiwis in Ben Matulino, Russell Packer and Elijah Taylor.

But after switching to Tonga in 2018, Fonua-Blake is not going back to black.

"It's not who I like better it's just what feels good for me," he said.

"I loved my time with the Kiwis and really enjoyed it. It was a big platform and step for me.

"But putting on the Tonga jersey was a different feeling. I felt more at home.

Addin Fonua-Blake (left) and Tongan teammate Jason Taumaulolo after beating Samoa in 2018.
Addin Fonua-Blake (left) and Tongan teammate Jason Taumaulolo after beating Samoa in 2018. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"I've played with Russell and played against Matulino a couple of times. He's one of the best hitters in the game. It will be a really good battle up front. I love challenges like that."

The other challenge for 2019 is to get Manly's name back up in lights after finishing 15th.

"It was a really disappointing year for the team we had and the effort we put in," Fonua-Blake said.

"We remember how it hurt last year and we don't want that feeling again this year."