Taukeiaho draws inspiration from special guest
When the Roosters run out on Suncorp Stadium on Friday night looking for a win to give them passage into the 2015 Grand Final, there will be a particularly special young guest providing one of them with some extra inspiration.
Breakout star Sio Siua Taukeiaho can't wait to see his 17-month-old son Leyton – who lives in Brisbane with his mother – when the side flies north this week.
Taukeiaho's brutal hit-ups inspire his teammates on a weekly basis but the powerful lock says when his lungs start to burn it's the thought of going home and Skyping his young son that gives him his inspiration.
He makes the effort to see Leyton every chance he gets and Taukeiaho, who flies up to Brisbane on Wednesday, is aiming to stay in Brisbane an extra day to spend some quality time with the toddler.
"My son stays up in Brisbane with his mum and I get a chance to fly up to Brisbane this weekend and see him and bring him to the game on Friday," Taukeiaho told NRL.com.
"I'll go up with the team on Wednesday but I'll try and stay back an extra day to spend time with him and if we do come home with the win I'll bring him back with me for the Grand Final.
"Whenever I get an opportunity to see him I try and make the most of it. I fly up there and bring him back here. My family wants to see him, my partner wants to see him as well. Whenever I get the opportunity I try and make the most of it to hang out with him.
Thinking about his son can get him through any tough times on the field, though for the in-form Taukeiaho and the high-flying Roosters the tough times have been comparatively few this season.
"Having a tough game or a loss I get to come home and Skype my son and that brings happiness to my life and takes footy off my shoulders, and the hard times. This week I'm looking forward to heading up there – win or lose I'll have my son there to keep me happy and chilled," he said.
"A few games I've come across that, I'm so tired and had nothing in the tank, I always think back to my son and my family and it gives me an extra boost to keep going, keep running and keep moving in defence."
Despite his huge workload in his first full NRL season, Taukeiaho is still feeling fresh and is rejuvenated by the finals series hitting full swing.
"The season's been long but I'm actually loving it, especially coming into finals time with one more game til Grand Final but at the moment I'm loving it getting the chance to play NRL," he said.
"There's heaps of pressure on my shoulders and I get nervous sometimes, I've just got to try and ignore all that and focus on the game and stay calm.
"I try and play for my family and also my brothers I play alongside with."
Taukeiaho has another two years to run on his current deal at the Roosters so while he is under no immediate contract pressure he says he can't see himself leaving Bondi.
"I love it here; I don't see myself at any other club. I'm locked in for another two more years and I'm excited. I see myself staying here long term but I guess it all depends on my performances and hopefully the Roosters keep me here," he said.
The more immediate challenge is trying to best the Broncos on their home patch this Friday, having beaten Brisbane in a low-scoring 12-10 thriller just over a month ago at Allianz Stadium in a game where Mitchell Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves were injured early on and the Roosters clung on with 15 men.
Taukeiaho recalled that when himself and Dylan Napa were interchanged off in the first half they looked at each other and realised they were the only two men left on the bench.
"Me and Napa looked at each other and said 'it's only us left on the bench' and when we jumped back on we didn't want to leave anything in the tank'," he said.
"Now we're excited to play them again, finals footy, heading up to Suncorp, everyone's excited and pumped this week.
"The Broncos are an awesome team, they're fit and strong and fast and our forward pack is the same, it will be a big challenge for us."