Ex-Panthers Austin, Naiqama inspire Koroisau
Penrith's Sea Eagles-bound hooker Apisai Koroisau is hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Panthers Kevin Naiqama and Blake Austin and see his career take off in a big way next season.
Wests Tiger Naiqama and Raider Austin are two examples of players who have excelled at their third club in three years – with both playing at the Panthers along the way.
Koroisau, who won the 2014 premiership with South Sydney in his rookie year, hopes his move to the Sea Eagles will be the impetus behind him playing regular football and adding to his 26 NRL games after serving apprenticeships under Issac Luke and James Segeyaro.
"This is an opportunity I can take with both hands so that my career can take off. But at the same time I've loved my journey along the way and I'm grateful for every club I've been to and all the experiences I've picked up," Koroisau told NRL.com.
"I've been behind two of the best hookers in the game which means the experience and the tips I've picked up over the past two seasons especially has been unbelievable. I'm really looking forward to using them for myself and hopefully cement my spot at Manly.
"Hopefully I can utilise the same pathway as Austin and Naiqama and really start to take off next year."
With Panthers assistant coach Trent Barrett officially signed up as the Sea Eagles' head coach next season, Koroisau said security – with his new three-year contract – rather than personnel was the key reason behind his move to the Northern Beaches.
"There's a lot of stability there especially for me and my partner, so I'm really looking to start a life with her. I've been able to put myself on the right road, especially financially," Koroisau said.
"But otherwise they do have an ageing hooker over there too so maybe I thought in a couple of years time I could try and get that spot myself."
For the meanwhile, Koroisau hopes to make the most of his time at the foot of the mountains. Named on the bench to partner Segeyaro out of dummy-half against South Sydney this weekend, Koroisau is happy to watch on from the sideline and "manipulate" opposition teams when he enters proceedings.
"It's something I managed to get quite used to especially after Issac [Luke] returned from injury last season. It's a different kind of role for me but at the same time there's a lot more energy there so when I get on I can give the team a big spur on," Koroisau said.
"Before I get out there on to the field I usually see how the forwards are reacting to the boys playing, especially with how they're controlling the ruck, and definitely use those tips when I get out there to try and manipulate them as well."