Storm's Sisa Waqa ready for NRL grand final
Sisa Waqa admits he spent last weekend worrying his roller-coaster, two-code football career had taken another sharp downturn that would cost him an NRL grand final appearance.
Waqa feared the worst when he injured his knee in the warm up and missed Melbourne's 40-20 preliminary final win over Manly on Friday.
It was only two days later that the 26-year-old winger was cleared of any significant damage, allowing coach Craig Bellamy to pick him for Sunday's season decider at ANZ Stadium.
"I was a bit worried when I missed the Manly game, but the scans came up all good," Waqa told AAP.
The grand final against Canterbury will cap off a remarkable journey for Waqa, whose pathway to the top has been less than straight-forward.
The former Fiji police SWAT team member moved to Sydney to play club rugby for Gordon in 2008 and his powerful performances earned him a contract with Super Rugby's Brumbies.
"I was all set to move down to Canberra, but it fell through as I was classed as an overseas player because I had played for Fiji in a Test," he said.
"That was disappointing, but the Roosters came in for me and offered me a contract to play league."
Although he had played league as a teenager, he admitted it took him a while to adjust, making just seven NRL appearances in the 2009 season.
So he was delighted to accept a three-year deal with Montauban to play in the top division of French rugby union and the chance to live in the South of France.
However, the move collapsed before he arrived, with the club beset by financial issues and forced to cut their playing roster.
"I was all packed up and ready to take my wife and children when we found out," Waqa said.
"It was very disappointing, so it was back to Sydney where I played club rugby again."
His performances caught the attention of Melbourne and after impressing in the Storm's trial matches at the start of 2011; he was offered a two-year contract by coach Craig Bellamy.
"It has been great living here in Melbourne. My family are very happy here and I owe the club a lot for giving me a chance to play at this level," Waqa said.
"Craig has been great to me and my family; he is a man who cares so much for his players.
"I've come a long way to get here from Fiji, with a few hurdles along the way, but here I am in a grand final."