I can’t believe it’s already been nearly two years since my family and I made the move here to France.

I still remember we were a nervous wreck when we first arrived – the language barrier was already such a big hurdle for us and once we got here it really sunk in just how far away we were from our families. 

The first three months were pretty rough on that front, but we couldn’t be enjoying it any more right now.

As a teenager, I always found my envisaged where rugby league might take me in the world, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would take me to the other side of the world. 

For those who don’t know my story, let me trace my steps for you. 

My most recent stint in the NRL was the twelve months I spent with the Brisbane Broncos – I played about twelve games and then I finished that year playing in the 2017 World Cup for PNG (Papua New Guinea). It wasn’t until Paul Aiton, one of my teammates in the PNG side who was actually playing for the Catalans Dragons, hit me up in camp and mentioned how the Catalan’s coach would be interested in having me there, if I was keen.

I had a chat to the wife and the decision came about pretty quickly for us.

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When I look back on it and reflect, it was a pretty good move and it was certainly outside our comfort zone. 

We thought moving from the Gold Coast to Brisbane was a pretty big move because we got so used to living on the Gold Coast. But to move from Brisbane to France, you know it was certainly tough, it was tough for me but it was probably even tougher for my wife because all the family are back home.

At least I get to go out and be apart of a team and it helps that the community is kind of already there for me, whereas she has got to create the community with some of the players’ partners and make some other friends as well. 

But you certainly get out of your comfort zone and it’s turned out to be a pretty good thing for us.

The first day I walked in I met a few of the boys and I had to learn a couple of the French phrases to greet the boys because not everyone spoke English. Thankfully it wasn’t too long before I met the Aussie boys who immediately made me feel welcomed. 

The first question a lot of rugby league fans tend to ask me, is which competition is better – the NRL or Super League?

To be absolutely honest – I think it’s very different, it’s pretty hard to explain.. in the NRL the ball stays in play a lot more and you’re moving around a bit more and there is a lot more emphasis on defence, while in the Super League it’s a lot more attacking, a lot more open space and it’s a lot more stop and start. 

I definitely enjoy both of them and they’re slightly different in those two aspects I think.

Coming into a new team you’re just trying to do everything right and play your role, and never did I think I’d be playing for my first piece of silverware in my first year, it’s funny how life works out like that.

I didn’t really know too much about the Challenge Cup until the week leading up to probably the semi final and grand final in terms of how much hype it was getting from the supporters. 

It felt like it was supported just as much as the actual grand final and so many fans were getting excited to go to it. 

The way we started the year the Challenge Cup wasn’t even in our sights, we won two from eleven games and then we signed a couple of players who came over and helped us progress and get into the Top 8 to avoid playing for the bottom 4 and that was our main goal. 

As soon as we got in the Top 8 we had an opportunity to play in the Challenge Cup and we got that win, and to get that win and see the tears and emotions of the people of Perpignan and France it was pretty special to witness that. 

After we won the Cup we’d come back and we couldn’t move out of the airport, people were loving celebrating it that much so it was a pretty special moment.

It’s right up there alongside my top achievements in the game, coming a very close second to my representative honours for the PNG Kumuls.

I’ve often been asked was it a difficult decision to pledge my allegiance to PNG over Australia, and while it absolutely was, I knew in my heart I made the right decision to nominate PNG as my representative nation.

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I grew up in Tubusereia village which is about thirty minutes from Port Moresby, it’s a very simple way of living.

I remember going to the farm with my grandparents, and we’d walk for kilometres or try and catch a ride with someone driving from the village to town and we’d be there from 8am to 5pm.

I’d be there for the food while my grandparents would be working hard on the farm and I just remember those moments and how hard they worked to provide for their kids and their grandchildren.

It was actually Papua New Guinea who gave me my first opportunity in the 2008 World Cup – I was a just young guy who had finished playing under-20s and not knowing if I was going to transition into first grade or not.

I got an opportunity to play in the World Cup for PNG and I think that boosted my chances of playing NRL on the Gold Coast – the coach saw me play in the World Cup and offered me a chance to train with the team in the preseason. 

Fast forward a bit and I ended playing first grade that year and I certainly put that down to PNG giving me the opportunity. That’s why I try to do everything I can to play for PNG or do good things in PNG.

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Good times.

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It’s been good seeing players who have allegiance to their countries where their parents are from and I think it’s good for them to help boost those countries because at the moment it’s Australia, New Zealand and England and obviously Tonga is pushing up against those three right now.

But we still need to continue to grow the game internationally to make it a bit more even but I think since 2008 I believe we’ve come a long way.

It’s meant everything to me being able to represent PNG and my family. Every time I put the Kumuls jersey on and we run out and sing our national anthem I get tears because I either see my family in the stands or I think back to all the moments I had in PNG with my grandparents, cousins and uncles and aunties.

I certainly feel very proud and grateful and hopefully I get a few more games in so I can enjoy the jersey.

It’s funny I look back and reminisce on those moments and think about how far I’ve come since those days in Tubusereia village. I still remember my grandmother carrying bags of yams, bananas and taro’s on her shoulders and taking it to the village. I’m so grateful and humble to see where I grew up and what I’ve been able to achieve through rugby league, it’s pretty special.

I owe a lot to my grandparents and to a lot of my family members and especially to rugby league, the opportunity it’s given me to not only play rugby league at a professional level but it’s helped me travel to different countries and experience different parts of the world.

I enjoy every moment I can, appreciate it and be grateful for the little things that happen not just around rugby league but around home as well. 

You know the guy who is filling up your water bottle at training, I thank him for it.

I think little things like that certainly make you feel grateful and you feel a lot stronger and a lot healthier mentally and hopefully I can make them all proud.