HE HAD offers from Australia’s NRL and other clubs in Super League, but big forward David Fifita has revealed it was a desire to “repay” the fans that drew him back to Wakefield Trinity.
Fifita could make his first appearance of pre-season on Sunday when Trinity face Belle Vue tenants Sheffield Eagles in their final trial game.
The Australian-born Tonga international joined Trinity from Cronulla Sharks midway through last year and was linked with a return Down Under at the end of the campaign, but felt he had unfinished business in West Yorkshire.
“I had a few offers on the table, but I think the fans got over the line for me to come back here,” Fifita confirmed. “They made me feel so welcome last year and I think I owe them a full season.
“I had offers from here and the NRL. My manager does his job pretty good and he will be looking again this year. I think I am off [contract] again this year, but my job is just to play for Wakefield and do it for all the boys here.”
Fifita, 27, admitted settling in England hasn’t been easy. He said: “You miss home, it is always hard over the Christmas period especially, but being at a club like Wakefield it feels like home. It is a smaller club and all the boys are real tight and close here. We have got a good group so it made me want to stay.”
Fifita had “a few visa issues” before being cleared to return, but has been back at Trinity since mid-November – though injuries to both hands have hampered his preparations for the new campaign.
“I needed two thumb reconstructions,” he said. “It has been a tough off-season, but interesting. I’m trying to push for the last trial game, against Sheffield, but if I’m not ready for that, round one.
“I should be good for then. It has been a bit of an interrupted pre-season with the surgery on both thumbs; there’s been a lot of rehab’, but so far, so good.”
Fifita reckons Trinity will have a much stronger pack this season and he is particularly looking forward to playing alongside new front-row signing Craig Huby.
“Chubs has been my partner through pre-season and he’s a good character,” he said. “He’s good for a laugh, he has just got out of the casualty ward and it’s good to see him back on the field.
“I am looking forward to strapping the boots on alongside him.”
He added: “Last year we were affected by injuries a lot. We didn’t have any depth. They’ve done a good job of recruiting and the forward pack is looking pretty strong if we’re all fully fit.
“We are looking a lot stronger and I think we can go an extra step. I think every team is going to underestimate us, but we should have one of the best packs in the comp’ I reckon.
“From last year when we had one big front-rower, myself, now I look around and we’ve got Anthony England fit again and Huby has come in.
“We’ve got Tinirau Arona, Keegan Hirst – who is a big unit – and blokes like Anthony Walker, who is coming through and trying to make his mark.
“There’s Mitch Allgood as well, from Hull KR. He’s from home and so’s Arona, so we’ve got that connection.
“We are the same age and we played in the local league, as juniors, so we’ve got a bond already.”