Atelea Vea has admitted that Super League has been a real learning curve for him as he settles in to his new club Leigh Centurions.
The 30-year-old spent a season with London Broncos in 2014 following four years in Australia’s National Rugby League with Cronulla Sharks, Melbourne Storm and St George Illawarra Dragons respectively.
London were relegated to the Championship that season and Vea then moved to St Helens. The back-rower spent two years at the Totally Wicked Stadium and made 39 appearances for Keiron Cunningham’s side, scoring 10 tries.
Vea switched to the newly promoted Leigh Centurions in the off-season and has revealed that he can bring a lot of experience from what he has gained from being in Super League.
“I had a rough start at London [Broncos] but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Vea.
“I liked my time there and enjoyed my introduction into Super League. We certainly did it tough, we only won one and that was against Leeds [Rhinos] and then I kicked on from there with St Helens.
“I had a good time at Saints, it was a great experience for me and they are a first-class club. I am looking to bring a lot of that into Leigh which will hopefully help this season.
“It has been good at the Centurions so far. Training has been tough, no-one enjoys pre-season! We are all having a good dig at the moment and they are a good bunch of lads so I am really enjoying it so far.”
It could be said that former London Broncos head coach Joey Grima saved Vea’s career, with the Tonga international working as a labourer in Australia after being released by the Illawarra Dragons.
Vea had even lined up a job in the Queensland mines before revitalising his professional career at London and Super League has since seen his career flourish.
The 6ft 0in and 17st forward is playing the best rugby of his career at the minute and wants it to continue at the Leigh Sports Village in 2017.
He added: “I can’t wait to eventually play some games.”
“We have got a good side and we have got a couple of events coming up so we can let our hair down away from the field and I think you really get to know each other when you are off the field.
“I am looking forward to the journey. I have played against a lot of these fellas like captain Micky [Higham]. There is a lot of strike and quality in the side so it is exciting.”