Tough love behind rising Warrior Fusitu'a
David Fusitu'a is the next big hope to come out of the New Zealand Warriors and is progressing nicely, thanks largely to a bit of tough love from home.
While mum Daphne has been riding all of the highs from David's first four NRL games, dad Edwin has been casting a more critical eye over his son's performance.
"My mum is really proud, so is my dad but he also plays a huge role as a coach, outside of the team," 19-year-old Fusitu'a said.
"He tells me stuff that maybe other people won't tell me. It is out of love and it's cool to have someone like that continue to speak into my life and footy.
"I have always played for my parents, we get a couple of season passes free so they take both of them."
A seasoned coach on the local Auckland scene with the Marist Saints club – which has produced NRL stars Sonny Bill Williams, Roy Asotasi and most recently David – Edwin has watched his son develop over the years and can pick up on things others may miss.
"It is more just looking at the little 'one-percenters', helping out with the little things," said Edwin, who currently coaches David's 13-year-old brother Joshua in the under-13 team at Marist.
"David is being coached by the best coaches at the Warriors, but mainly just the little things that most people probably overlook.
"I have a big belief that if you look after the little things the big things will naturally fall into place."
Those little things for David include making five errors in only four games, something the former Junior Kiwi is keen to address before it becomes a blight on his game at NRL level.
Standing at 192cm and weighing in at 96kg, the intimidating frame doesn't quite match the polite personality.
A natural athlete who teammates have compared to Israel Folau, in 21 games for the NYC squad last year Fusitu'a scored nine tries and averaged a team-high 143 metres per game.
Since stepping up to the big time he has showcased some spectacular skill, dotting down for three tries in athletic fashion, and producing classy assists for two Shaun Johnson four-pointers.
"My goal was just to get a run, so I am already overachieving," David joked.
"But I am striving for more games, I just want to keep getting better, there is still heaps I need to work on in my game, especially defensively.
"I am not as nervous before games, the first two I was really nervous for, but coming into my fifth now I am getting a bit more comfortable out there."
Away from league Fusitu'a is a youth group leader at the local church and still lives at home with his family, allowing Edwin and Daphne to ensure their son remains grounded despite the bright lights of the NRL.
"You can probably call that a little bit of a concern… that he is mixing with a lot of older boys, he is pretty much mixing with men," Edwin said.
"He is just a young 19-year-old kid mixing with men so there is a little bit of concern."
This week against the Knights Fusitu'a will mark up on former NSW Origin winger James McManus.
It is set to be his biggest challenge yet, but with a bit of help from dad, young David is more than up to the task.