Sauiluma moves past Super League snub
Former Raiders and Sharks winger Sami Sauiluma has moved past the disappointment of being rejected by the English Super League to earn his first representative jersey with the Queensland Residents.
Sauiluma has been named on the wing for Queensland Residents after less than 10 games for Burleigh Bears in the Intrust Super Cup having been unable to crack the New South Wales Residents team despite being named NSW Cup Centre of the Year the past two seasons.
After 18 games in the NRL over three seasons Sauiluma moved to the Gold Coast in the off-season in the hope of earning a contract with the Titans but when he was told he was unwanted by coach Neil Henry an opportunity presented itself in the UK.
Former Raiders teammate Terry Campese championed Sauiluma's cause to his present club, Hull KR, but just as he and wife Julia were preparing to leave for England Super League officials blocked the move.
Super League rules around imported players stipulate that they must have played at least 25 per cent of the previous season in the premier competition but despite only playing three games with the Sharks last year Sauiluma was expecting to be given the green light.
"Usually the Super League will pass on a few players but this one time they didn't," Sauiluma told NRL.com.
"Apparently it's the only time that it's happened to Hull KR. It was unlucky but I'm finally settling down here in Burleigh.
"I was back in Canberra for the Christmas break and had about a month just waiting to get on that plane.
"My wife was stressing so I felt for her but everything happens for a reason.
"It's been a bit of a roller-coaster, moving back and forth. First moving back to Canberra thinking I was going to Hull and coming back here but I'm enjoying it so far."
A key contributor to Burleigh's strong start to the Intrust Super Cup season, Sauiluma has put the thought of any possible move to the Super League or a return to the NRL to the back of his mind.
He has begun an electrical apprenticeship and says he and Julia are settling in well to life on the Gold Coast, even embracing the chance to wear the maroon of Queensland.
Born in Bankstown before growing up in the ACT, the 25-year-old resisted the influence of his father to cheer for the Blues come Origin time and admitted that representing Queensland on Sunday will be a strange feeling.
"It's very weird. It's different, being from NSW growing up," he said. "My dad loves Queensland so he'll be happy to get some free gear.
"When they moved over here [from Samoa] they moved to Canberra and back then all the Maroons legends were playing for Canberra so that's why he became a big Maroons fan.
"I did for a little bit too until I realised what Origin was about and I'm of NSW Origin so it didn't rub off on me.
"It's the first rep team I've ever made.
"I played for our ACT Schoolboys team in 2008 but we didn't have enough boys come trial so there was no missing that team.
"It's good to be in a rep team finally and see what it's all about."