Nuuausala: It’s about me protecting my new family

Frank-Paul Nuuausala in training with Willie Isa
Frank-Paul Nuuausala in training with Willie Isa

We were told he was quiet. We were warned Frank-Paul Nuuausala isn’t much of a talker.

But less than 24 hours after stepping off a plane, the Kiwi prop held court for 19-minutes in the Wigan media room, as he revealed his motivations for his move to Wigan - and his intentions now he is here.

He was friendly and amiable and, for an NRL veteran, there was surprisingly a lot of colour and humour in his answers.

First thoughts of Wigan? “It’s like Coronation Street.”

And while others would straight-bat a past run-in with Micky McIlorum with a ‘what happens on the field, shake hands...’ cliche response, Nuuausala said the tough hooker “smirked” at him when he walked into training and compared him to an assassin.

His openness was refreshing, and the 29-year-old didn’t even attempt to hose down the expectations brought on by his arrival.

“You know when you come from the NRL, and you play international and you’ve won a Premiership, you always have an expectation of how you have to come and play like,” he said.

“I know I’ve got a job I’ve got to do because I’m a player from overseas, and you’re all going to keep your eye on me, so I have to perform and make sure I’m doing that great.”

So what can fans expect from him?

“I wear my heart on my sleeve and that’s how I play. That’s how I’ve always been playing,” he said. “I won’t take any nonsense.

“My attitude is when times get rough, I put my head forward and just go forward.”

When he spoke to the media, he had only just met his new team-mates.

Friendships had not been forged, yet he described the fellow players as being his “family.”

“I’m loyal to Wigan, that’s my club and that’s my team and that’s going to be my family,” he said.

“It’s about me protecting my family, so if you’re not wearing the same jersey as me - you’re not on my team.

“I’m a loyal person I just want to play for Wigan that’s it, I don’t want to play for any other team.

“Wigan’s my team so I want to treasure the next few years while I’m here.”

Nuuausala has had a stellar career. He won a Grand Final and World Club Challenge with Sydney Roosters and has been a familiar face in the New Zealand side.

He switched to Canberra last year, but fell out of favour at the start of this season and hasn’t played a game – at any level – since April.

“I’m not disappointed I left, it doesn’t mean I’m not good enough – I was good enough to play over 180 games in the NRL,” he said. “I think that’s just part of footy. I had a good chat with Sticky (Ricky Stuart, Canberra coach) and he just said, ‘It’s a good opportunity for you and your family’, and I like a new challenge and I like being challenged.

“Plus, I’ve got a chip on my shoulder – I’ve got to prove people wrong.”

Nuuausala, who will be joined at Wigan later this month by his wife and their child, says he has been “overwhelmed” by the welcome
 he has received at his new club.

St Helens were among the other interested clubs, but he was already swaying towards Wigan – from his conversations with Jeff Lima and Thomas Leuluai – before meeting rugby director Kris Radlinski last month.

Wigan were all action and I loved the loyalty and the respect they showed me so I moved here,” he said. “I’m 100 per cent happy I chose Wigan.

“They always compete for the title, the Challenge Cup, and they have a winning culture. I remember when I was a kid, I saw Dean Bell and Frano Botica from New Zealand go over and play for Wigan, and when you watch TV and Wigan’s always on because they were always winning - I just remember that and I like to win, so I’m at Wigan.

“Wigan’s an awesome club, they’re really strong and I admire how Sean O’Loughlin plays. I reckon he’s one of the best loose forwards in the game... it’ll be awesome to play off him.”

With the Warriors top of the Super League ladder and in the Challenge Cup semi-finals, he has a great chance of winning a trophy so soon after arriving - a scenario he finds “funny.”

“Where they are, that’s all due credit to the boys this whole year,” he said. “I feel a bit funny coming in now, when the boys already did the hard work, so I just want to repay them through training and playing. We’ll just take it week by week and hopefully if we can get there, it’ll be awesome to win a couple cups this year but my main focus is just playing good for Wigan.

“Wigan’s doing well and I just want to keep the momentum going – I don’t want it to stop.”