One-on-one with Semi Radradra: Part 2
NRL.com sat down with Eels tryscoring sensation on a baking hot day at the Eels' home base at Old Saleyards Reserve in North Parramatta as the Fijian flyer reflected on his incredible rugby league journey to date.
For blockbusting Eels winger Semi Radradra, one of the toughest things about leaving Fiji to try his hand at rugby league was leaving behind his family but this year he hopes to bring them to Australia so they can watch him take the field for Parramatta in person for the first time.
Radradra has only recently returned from a few weeks in Fiji visiting his family over summer on his home island of Taveuni, a day and a half boat ride from the mainland.
He says he is hoping to bring his family out to watch him play rugby league for the first time early in 2016.
"I'm planning to bring my mum and dad this year to watch my first or second game. I'm looking forward to that. For them as well to watch rugby league and be in the moment, I'm very excited for them," he says.
He is also delighted to have been able to help them out financially.
"They're proud. I already built a house back home. They're very happy. I support them every day," he says.
Radradra though refuses to take the credit for his remarkable achievements to date. He believes everything he has achieved so far is a part of the Lord's plan for him but it is his duty to fulfil what has been laid out for him.
"I'm very proud for what I'm doing. Very proud as well for the Lord for giving me everything," he says.
"For me, I believe in God. I know that without him I wouldn't be able to be in this position. God has a plan for me. I think it's God's plan for me to be here and playing rugby league."
The Eels knew they were on a good thing with Radradra and locked down the 23-year-old until 2018 on a long-term deal. It's too soon to be worried about what happens when that deal expires but Radradra says he'd love to continue showing loyalty to the club that gave him his chance.
"I know I'll be here til 2018; I'm just going to wait after that and see if the club still want me. I'll try and play good every year and every game. I want to be loyal as well for the club," he says.
"That [loyalty] is what has been driving me all the time... because I was back home, they found me, they do everything for me, even bring my family. I want to do the same thing for the club and stay loyal for them.
"I never knew anything about the league, even the rules or anything but I'm happy I came here. They look after me, teach me about the rules and everything.
"It's a lot of work, I find it hard but for me I do extra every day. Come early, everything, because I want to be a success, I want to be a good player."
Clearly, Radradra's version of success is not marked by how many times he crosses the stripe but by how many games his team wins and he – like many – is tipping more wins for the blue and gold in 2016 than in 2015.
"This year will be a good year for us at Parra," he says.
"We have some new players as well [including new recruits Kieran Foran, Michael Jennings, Beau Scott and Michael Gordon]. It's good for the club. I'm really looking for a great season this year, we'll try our best to play hard and see what happens in October this year."
Of those new recruits, centre Michael Jennings will potentially have the biggest impact on Radradra's game if the two end up getting paired on the same side of the field.
Both are left-edge specialists, though there is an argument to spread the strike to both sides of the field and leave the prolific Radradra-Brad Takairangi combination intact.
"It's good having Jennings here; I'm not sure how they're going to pick the team but I'm very excited and I can't wait to play, whether he plays on my side or the other side I'm looking forward to working with them both. It's good for the club," Radradra says.
He adds he's not worried about potentially losing his existing combination on that side of the field.
"I'm not really disappointed because like I said the coach hasn't decided which centre will be on my side. I'm very excited for both and very happy with whatever the coach chooses," he says.
"It's a good buzz for everyone, everyone's happy."