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Rugby League

Eliesa Katoa scores in NRL debut

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Eliesa Katoa tries to run through Dragons defence, Central Coast Stadium, Gosford, NSW, Australia. Photo: NRL

Warriors rookie, Eliesa Katoa, scored a try in his first NRL match last Saturday, 30 May, against the Dragons who were kept scoreless 18-0 at Central Coast Stadium, NSW, Australia.

According to he had only played 13 games of rugby league prior to his first NRL match, which included 11 games of Jersey Flegg in 2019 and two NRL trials.

He earned the call-up to the senior side after an impressive 2020 pre-season.

Katoa grew up in Tonga and was a regular in national age group rugby union sides making several national representative trips to New Zealand, resulting in a scholarship to Tamaki College.

He played in the school’s First XV team and switched codes when he was scouted by the Warriors.

Katoa told the that everything he does is for his family back in Tonga, including moving from union to league.

"The reason why I wanted to play league is to help my family, whatever helps my family I'll go with it."

"All my family is back in Tonga. I moved to New Zealand from Tongan rugby union in under-16s and I got a scholarship to one of the schools called Tamaki College in east Auckland and it started from there."

"I finished school in 2018 and I was playing First XV rugby and got the opportunity to come play for these guys," he said.

Katoa doesn’t mind being away from his family, living in Auckland and then moving to be based in Australia.

"I don't mind, as a young kid. I'm happy for them because there's no (COVID-19) cases there and not much back in New Zealand."

Katoa said he is lucky his team mates and coach have helped him a lot.

"I always ask questions if I don't know something, ask the boys how they do something and they help me, they want me to get better."

"The boys have made my job a lot easier; I'm just glad I got an opportunity and every time I get an opportunity to play I try to put my best foot forward," he said.