WHEN Ha'ofanga Rabakewa arrived in Australia in 2010, he was a bright-eyed 19-year-old who had never played rugby league in his life.
Four years on, Rabakewa is a veteran of the Gladstone Raiders team, ready to line up in his fourth successive year of playing for the team.
A Fijian who usually avoids the spotlight, the 23-year-old wanted to play rugby union when he first arrived in Gladstone, but is now glad he is in the rugby league backline instead.
"When I first moved I wanted to play union, but now I prefer league, it has grown on me," he said. "I first played for the Raiders in 2011."
Becoming more and more comfortable with the game in every outing, whether for the Raiders or his local club Valleys, Rabakewa has high ambitions for his future.
The only obstacle standing in the way is work and family life, which prevent him from attacking his football full-time.
He has, however, felt better than ever this year and has seen improvement.
"It was funny at the start, a new experience," he said. "This year surprised me, playing for the Capras.
"Every footy player wants to try to go further; at the moment I have been trying to wear the national colours, but with a baby on the way it is hard."
Rabakewa has the opportunity to impress on Thursday and push for higher selection when the Raiders take on the Rockhampton side.
Gladstone Raiders vs Rockhampton:
- Kick-off: Thursday 6pm
- Venue: Marley Brown Oval
- CQ Capras vs Wynnum Manly Seagulls to follow