Bukuya feels right at home with the Warriors

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 26/01/2014
Jason Bukuya
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NEW RECRUIT: Jason Bukuya has signed for the Warriors for next season.

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Moving out of home is always a big deal for a 17-year-old. Your mum makes a big deal of it - saying how much she'll miss you.

As a teenager with plenty to prove in the world, you can't wait for the freedom - but secretly admit to yourself you'll miss the security of mum and the rest of the family, acknowledging how scary the big, bad world actually is without them by your side.

Every kid has to do it - and new Warriors recruit Jayson Bukuya was no different. Bukuya made his move at the end of 2006 - heading from his family home in Brisbane to the Sydney suburb of Cronulla after signing a youth contract with the Sharks in the NRL.

Bukuya, who has arrived at Mt Smart Stadium for a two-year contract this summer, ran that typical gauntlet of teenage emotion too - only the decision to leave home was harder for him.

Bukuya's father died when he was only 13 - making his mum an even bigger part of his world.

"Moving out of home when I was 17 was tough - but it helped me out a lot," the Queensland-born Fijian told Sunday News.

"To move over here, after that, isn't as tough. After moving to Cronulla, I remember telling mum I wanted to come home.

"But she told me to hang in there - and I ended up spending six or seven years in Sydney. Being away from family that long is also hard."

Bukuya looms as a fantastic signing for the Warriors. The backrower enjoyed a breakthrough season in the NRL last year after struggling with injuries since his debut in 2008.

His 2009, 2010 and 2011 years were disrupted by a broken leg, continuing ankle struggles and surgery to both shoulders.

In fact, the last two seasons were his first two at Cronulla where he actually managed to stay on the park.

Last season saw Bukuya turn into a try-scoring force for the Sharks, and a constant second or third tackle threat as the team forced their way into the NRL playoffs.

"I feel like I'm only just starting out my footy career, really, after all those issues," he said.

His services were hotly chased by a number of NRL clubs, but the 24-year-old said the Warriors made a big play for him and made him feel at home.

"The way the Warriors went about things - how they approached me and made me feel like they really, really wanted me here - it felt good," he said.

"You look at the gym and the hyperbaric chamber too - it's pretty good. As an athlete when you come and train every day, that's what you want to be a part of.

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"They made me feel like I wasn't just another player coming and going. It felt very genuine. That's what really appealed to me."

As for the dreaded pre-season training, Bukya said he's coping well so far. He's enjoying the unity of Matt Elliott's team, though admits he isn't looking forward to the notorious ‘Wiki-love' dished out by Warriors trainer, and legendary Kiwis hard man, Ruben Wiki.

Wiki's brutal training sessions aside, Bukuya believes Mt Smart Stadium is the right place for him to be at the right point in his career.

"That won't be much fun," he said, laughing.

"But it feels good to come over and feel like I've made the right decision," he said. "It's always a big call to change clubs and move across the ditch.

"But I feel like I've made the right decision - and I can't wait to rip into the season here in New Zealand."

- Sunday News

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