Sione raring to go at today's match against Dolpins in Roma
AFTER a tough few months, Sione Tongia has a new lease of life, and ready to help the Central Queensland Capras in their hunt for a finals' berth.
The 25-year-old Tongan international first joined the Capras midway through last year, and while he started strongly with the club this season, he missed three months due to personal reasons.
"It's good to be back ... Jason (Hetherington, Capras' coach) helped me a lot through that time, and he got into my head and got me back into playing footy," Tongia said.
"It's awesome training under him, he's different to other coaches I've had. The guys see Jason not only as a coach but also a tutor - he helps us out with our personal life as well as with our footy."
Before linking up with the Capras, Tongia lined up for the Auckland Vulcans in New Zealand, before moving to Gladstone for work, where he joined Wallabys.
"I grew up in Otahuhu in New Zealand, but I'm from Tonga. I played for Tonga in 2010 and 2011, and am still hopeful of playing for them at this year's World Cup ... I'm still on their radar," he said.
But first things first, the forward was focused on helping the Capras achieve their goal of making the ISC finals.
After impressing Hetherington last week with a powerful performance in their gutting 24-22 loss to Norths Devils at Browne Park, Tongia was named on the bench as a key impact player for today's must-win Intrust Super Cup Country Week clash against Redcliffe Dolphins at Roma.
The loss to Norths meant the Capras will need to win all of their remaining matches to secure a finals' berth. Likewise, the Dolphins have to win the majority of their remaining matches to remain a chance after wracking up three important wins.
"Redcliffe are a good side, they play a fast game, they're physical and they have a lot of experienced players but if we stick to our own game plan and make them follow us, we will get over," he said.
Coach Hetherington said Tongia was a very important part of what the club was trying to achieve, and he hoped to see some consistently good performances from the big forward.
Despite last weekend's loss to Norths, Hetherington was proud of the Capras' second half comeback.
"To come back and win the second half, that's when I thought these guys were fair dinkum ... Redcliffe are a very good side and will be hard to beat, but if we play to our abilities, we will do well."
Redcliffe have a dominant record against the CQ team - with the Capras unable to topple them since 2009. However, the two sides did play out a 24-24 draw in their match earlier this year.
The Capras left on their long road trip to Roma yesterday, and will kick off against the Dolphins today, at 4pm.
Capras: Cameron Munster, Jamie Simpson, Russell Webber, Josh Benjamin, Marco Delapena, Brent Crisp, Darcy Etrich, Ian Webster, Alan Rothery, Simon Gregory, Guy Williams, Gavin Hiscox (c), Sione Tongia, Dean Blackman, Sam Pierce, Mick Esdale, Anthony Flores, Brent Williams (one to be omitted).
(After round 19)