Proud dad Fonua repays Radford’s faith in Hull triumph
TWO-TRY Mahe Fonua conceded he needed to “repay” Hull FC coach Lee Radford after almost being dropped for the Challenge Cup final.
The marauding Tonga winger impressed in the 18-14 win over Wigan Warriors crossing twice as the Airlie Birds retained the trophy he helped win 12 months previously.
But Radford revealed afterwards he came close to leaving the ex-Melbourne Storm star out at Wembley after a series of error-ridden displays and deeply considered including Australian Steve Michaels instead.
Some people thought Michaels might play but Fonua would switch to the centre and it would be Josh Griffin or Jake Connor who missed the cut instead. “I am really grateful to Lee Radford for keeping his faith in me,” he admitted.
“The last few weeks I haven’t been showing form and I really needed to repay him.
“I thought I did that today. I just went back to basics, simplified my game and did those things so I hope he’s proud of what I’ve done.
“There was a little bit of pressure but that’s what I put on myself as I needed to repay him.”
Fonua, who scored one and created another in last year’s win over Warrington, also had a hat-trick effort ruled out in the 61st minute following a dubious obstruction by Griffin.
The 24-year-old, who brilliantly claimed kicks all afternoon and bulldozed Wigan defenders countless times, said: “When I look back I don’t know why that was.
“But video refs get paid to make these calls. Unfortunately I didn’t get a hat-trick but I’m really happy with the two tries that I did get.
“We made it hard for ourselves but still managed to get the win and that’s a good sign. There was some nervous times especially that last five which felt like the longest five minutes ever.”
Asked if his two-week old daughter had witnessed events unfold, Fonua revealed: “She did. And I’m very, very happy she made it. This was her first game. She won’t remember it but I will hopefully show her some photos one day and she’ll be proud of me.”
Fonua, who heads back to the NRL with Wests Tigers in 2018, clearly put the disappointment of his woeful appearance against Huddersfield behind him.
A bright pink T-shirt, which is emblazoned with a rather crude message and is what he wore during Friday’s practice, was stuffed in his bag afterwards.
He explained: “Whoever makes the most errors in the last game, then has it awarded – given – at the start of the next week and you have to wear it all week.
“I didn’t want to on Friday as there was media there and I didn’t want people to know I was that person. I tried to hide it as much as I could.”
After this stellar performance, it is certainly safe to say Fonua will not be donning it again in the coming days.
Radford admitted: “I made the right call. It was a tough decision, my hardest; Steve Michaels has been really consistent.
“There was doubts. I had difficulty speaking to Steve; saying he wasn’t going to play was made more difficult by Mahe’s recent performances.
“He (Fonua) came very close (to being dropped). But he came up trumps. Credit to him. He did it on the big stage and plays like that win games of football.”
TRY: Mahe Fonua crashes over for one of his two tries for Hull FC.