'˜Wrecking Ball' can join a special Grand Final club
Frank-Paul Nuuausala has a chance to join an exclusive club of players to have won both NRL and Super League Grand Finals.
The prop – nicknamed ‘The Wrecking Ball’ – came off the bench in Sydney Roosters’ 26-18 victory against Manly in 2013, and faced Wigan in the following year’s World Club Challenge.
He only arrived at the Warriors in mid-season after falling out of favour at Canberra.
And he is stoked his first season at the club is ending with a Grand Final appearnace.
“It’s unbelievable really,” he said. “I give credit to the other players, for accepting me and making my job easier.
“When you come into a new club it can be hard learning a new system but they’ve been really welcoming.
“I feel like I’ve been here two years, not a few months.
“The boys say I timed it right, coming over in the summer.”
The 29-year-old certainly appears to have found his feet after a slow start by his own admission.
He certainly made an impression on Wigan fans when he was sin-binned for a derby dust-up with St Helens’ Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.
“But that’s me, I won’t take a backward step, you want to give me stick I’ll give it back,” he said.
“I knew it would take time to get my match-fitness, I knew I wouldn’t be firing right away. Waney knew I wasn’t match fit and he didn’t expect much from my first six games. But he backed me and showed faith in me and I knew I’d come good. Each week I feel I’m improving.
“I love having Waney as my coach. He wears his heart on the sleeve, he won’t lie to you. I know he gets some stick but he’s so passionate about the sport and the club. He’s awesome to play under – to get to Old Trafford four years in row, especially this year with a depleted team, it shows how good he is and getting players up-to-speed. He’s awesome.”
Nuuausala played at Old Trafford three years ago when New Zealand met Australia in the World Cup Final.
Having edged out England in a dramatic semi-final, they went down 34-2 in front of 74,000 fans.
“It was an incredible semi-final at Wembley, but the final wasn’t too good – Australia played awesome and we were on the wrong end of the scoreboard,” recalls Nuuausala.
“But I remember it was a great crowd, I think all the English fans wanted us to beat Australia!
“The fans over here are crazy and awesome. They make the atmosphere for us.”
Another 70,000-plus crowd will be at Manchester United’s home ground tomorrow night to watch Wigan face Warrington for the Super League silverware.
Nuuausala says their ability to shackle opponents Chris Hill and Ashton Sims will have a big bearing on the outcome.
“Their go-forward is their strength,” he said. “Hill is the best front-rower in this competition and Ashton Sims isn’t far behind.
“I notice when they go off they dip, and pick up when they go back on, so it’s my job to try and get over them.
“That’s what I love about rugby league compared to union, you get the one-on-one confrontation. And it’s a challenge for me – I like that. And hopefully I can do a job.”
Adrian Morley is the only British player to play in a Grand Final winning side in both England and Australia. Morley played for Sydney Roosters when they defeated New Zealand Warriors 30-8 in 2002, and for Bradford Bulls when they defeated Leeds Rhinos 15-6 in 2005.
Overseas players that have completed the Grand Final winning double:
Darren Albert (Newcastle 1997/St Helens 2002)
Marcus Bai (Melbourne 1999/Leeds 2004)
Darren Britt (Sydney Bulldogs 1995/St Helens 2002)
Danny Buderus (Newcastle 2001/Leeds 2011)
Jason Cayless (Sydney Roosters 2002/St Helens 2006)
David Furner (Canberra 1994/Leeds 2004)
Daniel Gartner (Manly 1996/Bradford 2001 & 2003)
Ben Harris (Canterbury 2004/Bradford 2005)
Graham Mackay (Penrith 1991/Bradford 2001)
Danny Moore (Manly 1996/Wigan 1998)
Pat Richards (Wests Tigers 2005/Wigan 2010 & 2013)