Nuuausala's return to a venue which means the World
Frank-Paul Nuuausala is hoping for a happy return to Wembley after achieving one of his career highlights at the London venue four years ago.
The prop nicknamed ‘The Wrecking Ball’ was in the New Zealand squad which beat England 20-18 in the World Cup semi-final.
Nuuausala played a key role in the nail-biting victory, providing the dummy-half pass to Shaun Johnson for the last-minute match-winning try which broke the hosts’ hearts.
“That semi-final win is up there with all the achievements in my career,” said the 30-year-old.
“Mark Bitcon (Wigan’s director of performance) was with England and he still gives me grief about it!
“It was a cruel finish for England but obviously great for us to win and get to the World Cup final. Even when we were losing, I had belief we could do it.
“I remember, one of the Burgess twins got penalised, we got into good position and then I was the one who was at dummy-half who passed the ball to Shaun, and he did the rest.
“But I remember going there and I just thought Wembley was a soccer team’s ground, I didn’t realise how big it was and that it was the national stadium.
“The stadium was unbelievable, the changing rooms... it was a great atmosphere. It was exciting times and I can’t wait to play there again.”
And for Nuuausala, Saturday’s final against Hull FC gives him a chance to win his third piece of silverware in 10-months – and little more than a year after joining the club from NRL outfit Canberra Raiders.
“I couldn’t have planned it better, eh?” he said.
“Hopefully we get the win at Wembley.
“I know the Challenge Cup has a lot of prestige and history. To be honest, I didn’t know much about the Challenge Cup competition before I got here, but I think it’s the pinnacle, I think it’s bigger than the Grand Final with the way people talk about it.”
The prop will be watched by family and friends in New Zealand and Australia, who are staying up late to cheer him on.
“We know what we’re capable of,” he added. “If we defend well, if we have the right attitude in defence, we win games.”