Suli to find his feet at Sea Ea­gles

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT -

MOSES Suli is strug­gling to spit out his words. He sounds de­pressed but re­fuses to play the men­tal health card that many trou­bled footy play­ers fall back on.

Some gen­uinely, but, for oth­ers, just a poor and easy ex­cuse.

This is the teenager who has cre­ated rugby league his­tory and head­lines by be­ing the first player sacked by two NRL clubs in the same month. He agrees to his first in­ter­view with The Sun­day

Tele­graph on Fri­day about the em­bar­rass­ment of his de­par­ture from Wests Tigers and Can­ter­bury.

A poor, lethar­gic at­ti­tude and

more than 20kg over­weight. It’s cost him more than $1 mil­lion in con­tract earn­ings.

“I blame my­self,” Suli said. “No one else. My at­ti­tude wasn’t there.

“I’ve been lazy and lacked dis­ci­pline. I had chances but blew it.” It’s a dif­fi­cult in­ter­view. You try to ex­tract the rea­sons why he ig­nored so many warn­ings from Ivan Cleary at the Tigers and then Dean Pay at the Bull­dogs.

He’s ex­tremely shy and has had no me­dia train­ing.

He replies to nearly ev­ery ques­tion with just a few words.

Ob­vi­ously this is a 19-year-old who has strug­gled to adapt to the de- mands of sport­ing pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

He doesn’t drink, gam­ble or do drugs. He has sav­ings in the bank.

In 12 months, the qui­etly spo­ken rookie went from play­ing S.G. Ball footy with his mates, 80 min­utes of Holden Cup, then got pitch­forked straight into first grade.

Along­side and against hard­ened pro­fes­sion­als. The best in the world.

He was so good, Wests Tigers threw $1.3 mil­lion at him.

Suli played 16 straight first-grade games then broke his leg.

It meant surgery and the lonely iso­la­tion of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion for months on end.

Hardly the first player who has strug­gled to cope on the sidelines, he gained weight and lost his di­rec­tion.

Even the great Greg Inglis did last year.

In his mid-teens, Suli lost his fa­ther. He found him dead in the garage of his own home.

It’s some­thing he doesn’t wish to dis­cuss but at least gives you a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the dif­fi­cul­ties and heart­break he’s faced.

Yet he re­mains pos­i­tive. That he will even­tu­ally get his head right.

And that he will make a come­back and ful­fil his won­der­ful po­ten­tial.

Yes­ter­day, Suli joined his third club by sign­ing with the Manly Sea Ea­gles. He has seven mates from his old school West­fields Sports High who played in Manly’s premier­ship-win­ning Holden Cup team last year.

They will car pool each day to train­ing to make sure the way­ward teen gets there on time.

Two of Suli’s old school teach­ers are on the Sea Ea­gles’ staff, too. “I won’t give up,” Suli said. “I’ll go to the gym, I’ll do some train­ing and lose some weight.

“And when I’m ready, we’ll see what hap­pens.

“There’s one thing I have learnt and that’s never to take any­thing for granted.”

Moses Suli (main) takes on the Sharks last year, and (clock­wise left) with his fam­ily; pos­ing with his mates from Manly’s 2017 Holden Cup-win­ning team; with Aaron Woods when he signed for the Bull­dogs; as a fledg­ling ju­nior; and at his fa­ther’s...

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