Api’s NRL comeback ‘written in the stars’
Bati hooker shows his worth and prove Sea Eagles officials wrong
During the 2020 preseason Api Koroisau had circled the round 15 match at Panthers Stadium on June 26.
It was the night he was supposed to meet his former club Manly for the first time since his enforced exit from the northern beaches. But then a pandemic happened and the world was turned inside out.
Koroisau then had a new date to look forward to - August 1 at Lottoland. It was worth the additional wait.
“I thought about it [original date] at the start of the season but once we got going everything got upturned,” Koroisau told NRL.com.
“But as it got closer I started to get excited again.” Koroisau bears no malice towards the Manly club. He wanted to extend his fouryear stay with the Sea Eagles but officials told him they were moving ahead with young No.9 Manase Fainu.
Then off-field issues and shoulder surgery stopped Fainu in his tracks. By that time Koroisau had moved back to Penrith and Manly had lured Newcastle’s Danny Levi to its ranks.
As the football gods would have it, Koroisau almost missed playing his old teammates after he hurt his elbow against the Cowboys in round 10.
After a fortnight of intensive therapy, and missing the Titans win, Koroisau made it back a week earlier than predicted.
“I was really happy with my progress, so were the medical staff, and there wasn’t much pain so I knew I could play this week,” he said.
“It’s always good to come back home ... it must be been written in the stars to play here again.”
Manly fans might not think so after seeing Koroisau help orchestrate a 42-12 thumping.
The win keeps Penrith at the top of the table.
“We’ve spoken a lot about momentum and trying to keep what we’ve got here going,” Koroisau said, referring to seven straight wins.
“You want to ride it for as long as you can. We’ve also showed that when things do get hard and we don’t play our best, we’re still coming away with the two points. “It was a great week we’ve just had that led to one of our better wins.” No argument there – seven tries to two and a stunning completion rate of 42 sets from 44.
“That’s really high. I wasn’t expecting that but I’m pretty impressed by those numbers,” Koroisau said.
“The game these days is so quick – a lot of it has to do with possession and field position. So if we’re completing that high it shows we’re doing the right things with the ball – kicking it into the right places. “We’re going to be a hard team to beat if we keep doing that. Tonight was a really good sign.”
Halfback Nathan Cleary’s kicking game – 22 in total – was helped by the fact Koroisau was back feeding him the ball cleanly and quickly.
“The more fluent the spine is with each other and the better connection we have, the whole team can feed off that,” Koroisau said.
“So my connection with Nath is important but also the work I do with the forwards is crucial.”
Koroisau did his part by topping the match tackles with 52. His opposite number Levi made 51 tackles.
“For me, I think it’s a bit of little-man syndrome. I’ve always been the smallest in the team and you’ve sort of got to prove your worth and for me, that’s in defence. “You’re always going to be picked out and have people come at you. But you’ve just got to hold your own and show you’re not a liability.”
Penrith Panthers and Fijian Bati hooker Api Koroisau.