Soliola inspired by Super League alumni
Canberra Raiders recruit Iosia Soliola is drawing inspiration from past Super League players and trying to reignite his NRL career in a bid to help his new club reach greater heights in 2015.
Whether they came from England to test themselves in the greatest rugby league competition in the world like Sam Burgess and former St Helens teammate James Graham or departed the NRL and returned soon after to continue their careers like Sam Moa, Glenn Hall and Feleti Mateo, Soliola is keen to emulate them.
Linking up with Ricky Stuart at the Raiders – Soliola's previous coach in the NRL during his time at the Roosters – the back-rower returns full of confidence and can still do a job in the NRL.
"I wouldn't have come here if I didn't think I had the goods still," Soliola told NRL.com.
"Seeing a lot of the boys who have done it recently like the Burgess boys, Sammy Moa and James Graham, you just can't help but think that you probably have the same willingness as well, so hopefully it will work out as good for me as it did for them.
"There are always going to be those nerves when I play but I just have to be confident in my ability and back myself to succeed. That's what I'm trying to achieve this year."
Soliola is returning to the NRL off the back of some virtuoso performances.
After losing two previous grand finals, Soliola comes back to Australia as a premiership winning back-rower following his instrumental effort in St Helens' 14-6 grand final victory over Wigan last season where he scored the match-winning try.
"I had a blast over there. Even just last year and the way the season went and how we weren't regarded as premiership contenders and the way we went up against the odds was probably the most satisfying," Soliola said.
"I met a lot of good friends and family-friends and good relationships over there. That's one thing I regret is leaving them behind, but it isn't as big as what I want to achieve over here and being with my family."
Finally settled in after leaving the successful Super League outfit, Soliola said he sees plenty of similarities between St Helens and the Raiders., with the green machine set to host plenty of young players in their team this year.
"You have to look at the positives, the young fellas gained a lot of experience in 2014 and they'll be gaining more experience moving forward," Soliola said.
"We have a lot of old heads here on top of that, including myself, to balance things out so the general vibe and the culture have been great. It's a credit to Ricky and what he's done."
Speaking of Ricky, Soliola said having his former Roosters mentor at the club played a huge part in moving to the nation's capital.
Having been coached by Stuart in his first two seasons of NRL football, Soliola has transformed from a rookie to leader during his time away from his current mentor.
Soliola added he believed even Ricky had changed in their eight years away from one another.
"He's changed, Ricky, definitely in a good way too. He's been awesome with the boys and I can't fault him. Back at the Roosters he was definitely tough," Soliola said.
"I'm not sure it was because I was a younger head and earning my stripes but I've definitely noticed the change.
"He's definitely a coach we all want to play for. I think he's a bit more patient now in regards to the footy side of things and the way he talks to the boys. I guess it's something he's learnt over the years."