The WaiCoa Bays club rugby league grand final triumph was extra special for Hamilton City Tigers second rower Fa'a Leilua.
The 25-year-old was named man-of-the- match and awarded the Tawera Nikau trophy for his efforts in the 26-12 victory, which he got to share with his 18-year-old brother Renata.
The teenager had been in the Tigers team for some of their campaign but was not originally scheduled to play in the decider.
“We just called him in on Tuesday; he came to training because one of the boys [Jaz Inia-McGarvey] pulled up sore in the ribs,” Fa'a said.
“He was talking to me on Friday and he was really scared to play, he was real nervous, but I told him: ‘Bro, just have a good rest'.
"And he did well man, two tries; really stoked with him.
“Winning the Waikato [competition] together was good and then him coming back, that was even better.”
Fa'a, usually a centre, felt the “extra hard work” of being pushed further infield but said he loved it.
“My shoulders are still hurting but I get a good rest after this,” he said, having gone off the field with about 10 minutes remaining with his legs also tightening up.
After coming from behind to win, Fa'a said his side were able to pick themselves up once points were scored.
“Then they [the Panthers] dropped their heads and we just had the roll on and they couldn't come back.”
Fa'a, who was in the team for last year's WaiCoa Bays triumph and the Waikato title win in 2010, said he was “stoked as” with what the Tigers had achieved and that he already couldn't wait for next year.
“This club's actually doing quite well, and just for the senior players stepping up and all the young players coming in, it's really good for the club."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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