Frank-Paul Nuuausala has credited the Sydney Roosters with keeping him out of prison and said he owes his NRL career to former club captain and assistant coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
The Kiwi forward signed a new two-year contract with the club earlier this month, knocking back interest from three other teams to extend his love affair with the Roosters who host Cronulla at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
A prodigious talent as a teenager, Nuuausala was tipped for a long career with the Warriors before falling on the wrong side of the tracks in south Auckland.
He was shown the door by former coach Ivan Cleary in 2005 before being handed a lifeline by then Roosters mentor Ricky Stuart in 2006.
"I came over as a kid because I had some troubles back at home," Nuuausala told AAP.
"I had a bad attitude, a chip on my shoulder.
"I grew up in a tough neighbourhood. I was trying to be a gangster when I was a teenager.
"I was drinking, doing drugs and bludging off my parents. Just wasting my talent but the Roosters sorted me out."
Although moving to Sydney took him away from the issues affecting him at home, Nuuausala found he was going nowhere fast at his new club and heading towards the exit door.
Fitzgibbon, who was preparing for his final season with the team before heading to Hull FC in England, could see the talent possessed by Nuuausala and decided to take him under his wing.
"I would be either in prison or working in a factory if it wasn't for Fitzy," he said.
"I'd been in the Warriors development squad until Ivan Cleary booted me out for having a bad attitude.
"That should have been a wake up call for me, but it wasn't.
"Fitzy came along and took me under his wing. I learned how to train, eat properly and how to use my talent wisely.
"I just needed someone to put their arm around me and show me the ropes.
"I just used to follow him everywhere. Whatever he did, I did. He is a great man and I'm loving working with him once again."
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