Moga's despair: I let Mum down
Cowboys centre Tautau Moga has spoken out about the incident outside a Brisbane nightspot that not only cost him a place in the Samoan team for the opening match of the Four Nations but brought pain on the woman who inspires him.
Moga and Samoa teammates Sauaso Sue and Reni Maitua were caught up in a brawl outside a Brisbane nightclub in the days leading up to the opening match against England, with Moga and Sue later issued with public nuisance tickets by Brisbane police.
The public embarrassment was bad enough but Moga has told NRL.com that sitting down with his mother, Tua, to explain what had happened was the most difficult part of the ordeal.
While no young man likes getting in trouble off his mum, the repercussions for Moga are felt more deeply due to the fact that he has been the only male influence in his household since his father, Pita, passed away when he was just seven years of age.
His mother and two sisters, aged 15 and 17, also made the move to Townsville when he transferred from the Roosters midway through last year and Moga revealed that his responsibility to provide for his family is driving him to reach his enormous potential.
"She didn't take [the news of the incident] very well but I sat down with her and she spoke to me about just little things, being in the right place at the right time. So it was pretty tough," Moga explained.
"My mother and my two sisters, they motivate me the most. I lost my old man when I was young and there was no one there for my sisters to look to so I had to step up and become the man of the house. That motivates me."
Still just 21 years of age, Moga's lasting memories of his father are of trips to the football together, a passion that would continue to be fostered by his mother as he grew into one of the most dynamic prospects in the game.
As his burgeoning potential became more evident through his teenage years the Ipswich junior recognised that rugby league may be a way to provide for his family and lessen the load on his mother.
"I think when I hit high school – just Mum running around working two jobs – that motivated me to train harder and try and make it into footy, which I did. I'm blessed with the job I've got now," he said.
"She was a youth worker and she worked at the hospital as well. She's working [in Townsville], but she doesn't have to work two jobs."
As he progressed through the junior ranks Moga's athletic prowess was compared with the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Israel Folau and only NRL age restrictions prevented him from making his top grade debut with the Roosters in 2011 at just 17 years of age.
Having finally been introduced to the NRL in Round 10, 2012, Moga suffered an ACL injury in pre-season training later that year and then had his 2013 season cut short in June when he suffered the same injury at training one week into his comeback.
That one game two years ago was under the coaching of then Roosters under-20s coach Paul Green, who is now charged with restoring Moga's self belief to match the state of his fully repaired body.
"His last knee injury was a couple of years ago now so physically he should be right. I just think Tau needs to get some confidence and then we'll see the best in him," said Green, entering his second season in charge at the Cowboys.
"When he came here he struggled for a bit of confidence and when he did have that confidence we saw what he was capable of. He had some lovely touches through the year but we also saw him through the year when he lacked a bit of confidence and it was a bit tough for him.
"He's had a good off-season with where he's at now, the injury thing should well and truly put behind him, the biggest thing is just to get some confidence and then we'll see the best in him."
Primed to complete his first full season in the NRL, Moga says whether it is injuries or off-field indiscretions, the tough times he has been forced to endure will shape the player and the man that he becomes.
"It was tough, I'm not going to lie, it wasn't easy but footy's not always about shining," Moga said of his consecutive ACL injuries.
"You've got to have those rough patches to get through; it makes you become a better person and character as well."
And someone his mum will be proud of.