Clinton Toopi with a point to prove

Clinton Toopi will take his first step on the road to securing his future when he makes his long-awaited NRL debut for the Titans against high-flying Manly this weekend.<br><br>The former Warriors centre was thrown a lifeline by the Gold Coast after a brief and injury-prone stint in New Zealand rugby, and his chance to shine has finally come after Mat Rogers suffered a knee injury in last Friday’s loss to St George Illawarra.<br><br>“It’s been a long road back but I’m here now and looking to getting back into it and what better way than against Manly,” Toopi told Big League this week.<br><br>“Hopefully I can put my best foot forward over the next few weeks so I can start talking to the club about next year.”<br><br>Originally lured to the Gold Coast on a trial basis before signing a one-year deal for 2010, Toopi has left wife Turenga and kids Waimania and Brianna back in New Zealand while he sorts out his future.<br><br>“That’s been difficult – being away from my wife and kids,” he said. “They’ll stay in New Zealand for the rest of the year and just come over in the holidays until we sort something out with the Titans.<br><br>“The club wants me to take on a role after football as well and I’m seriously looking into that.<br><br>“At the end of the day the coach wants me to be playing good footy to be re-signed to play, but if I ever feel that my time is up there is definitely an opportunity there for a mentoring role as well as helping out in the community with the Kiwis and other young players.”<br><br>No doubt the sight of Toopi in a Titans jersey will take some getting used to. The 30-year-old was a mainstay of the Warriors’ glory days at the start of the decade – playing in the club’s one and only grand final appearance in 2002 and forming one of the most devastating attacking trios ever seen in the NRL alongside Ali Lauiti’iti and Francis Meli.<br><br>“The Titans actually showed some interest before I headed to England (in 2007), but at the time I didn’t want to play for any other NRL club than the Warriors,” Toopi said.<br><br>“But any time a club shows that they’re really keen on you, you appreciate it and you want to give them your all.<br><br>“I mean, every player wants to be loyal to one club but it doesn’t always work out that way.<br><br>“As it turns out the Titans were after a certain type of player and they also had a role in mind for me after football. It’s hard to say no to that!”