It might have been the curtain raiser but Taniela Paseka was one of the star attractions for the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at 4 Pines Park on Saturday night.
Paseka made a successful return from a knee injury in Blacktown’s 22-16 win over the North Sydney Bears in the NSW Cup.
The giant prop clocked up 118 metres from 13 runs and made 15 tackles in his 44 minute appearance for Blacktown in his first game back since suffering the injury in round seven of the Telstra Premiership against Cronulla.
“Leading into the game, I was a bit nervous,’’ Paseka said.
“I had a week to get ready contact wise at training, so I had to get tackled, make tackles, and run.
“I wanted to get an early carry in the game, so I could get the nerves out. As soon as I did that, I knew I was sweet.
“I played 40 straight minutes. I don’t usually do that in first grade, so it was good to get that match fitness back into me.”
Paseka is hoping his strong performance will be enough to see him named in Manly’s team for Sunday’s match against Wests Tigers at Campbeltown Sports Stadium.
“There’s some good competition for spots at the moment,’’ Paseka added.
“I just have to wait and see what happens now.
“It’s a hard job for Des, but it’s good for the team that we have to fight for our positions. A bit of competition brings out the best in all of us.”
Blacktown Workers Coach Nathan Hogan was full of praise for Paseka.
“He showed great leadership for us and gave the whole squad a lot of confidence, especially some of the younger players,’’ Hogan said.
“Taniela was excellent.”
Paseka said he was impressed with some of the young talent coming through the NRL squad, including promising 21-year-old prop Viliami Fifita who has come through the Sea Eagles Pathways Academy program.
All the boys here call Vili ‘Mini Me’. They reckon he is another meTaniela Paseka on Viliami Fifita
“But he is bigger and better than me when I was his age.
“Viliami has plenty of potential. He is a real shy, humble guy.
“He is like an open book. He takes everything in and I know he is going to have a bright future."