Aloiai on a hip and a prayer
"I think the sport they play in heaven is rugby league. I reckon God loves it".
Wests Tigers rookie Josh Aloiai is on the edge of history as he looks to become the first player in club history to feature in every game in his debut season.
Aloiai's faith has been central to his burgeoning NRL career and it's extended to his studies where he is undertaking a course in Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy at Hoxton Park's Inspire Church.
The 20-year-old's faith was required late last season when his rugby league prospects were thrown into disarray after suffering a broken hip while playing for the Eels' Holden Cup team.
As a result, Aloiai had to carry the "freak accident" into his first pre-season at the Wests Tigers.
The Auckland local failed to run until after Christmas and relied on an exercise bike and rowing machine to maintain his fitness.
With only a few months on his side to prove to Tigers coach Jason Taylor he was a viable first grade option, Aloiai was handed his debut in Round 1 against the Warriors and hasn't looked back since.
"I've been really blessed to have played every game and not pull up with any injuries. I had some pretty high goals in the pre-season but I've definitely exceeded my expectations for the year," Aloiai said.
"A big part of what I'm trying to do now is incorporate my faith into my footy, a lot of people don't understand how that works but it works awesome for me.
"God has given me a gift so I'm trying to use it is through rugby league and glorify his name," he added.
"When any good thing happens I always make sure to thank my lord and saviour Jesus Christ."
This Saturday afternoon Aloiai will face off with his old Eels side for the second time in his short career – a club he joined to play SG Ball, leaving his family in New Zealand at age 17.
While he never featured in Parramatta coach Brad Arthur's side, Aloiai still had plenty to do with most of the players he'll come up against in Round 21 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
While he still had a year to run on his Eels contract last year, Aloiai said his departure has proved to be a blessing.
"I think there were more better things for me elsewhere so I seized the opportunity and things have been going really well ever since," Aloiai said.
"When you step out and make stuff a little bit more uncomfortable that's where you grow and become a better player. For me, it was a new opportunity and I'm loving my football and everyone involved at the club."
Such is the impression Aloiai is making on the field, there's no question he's made an even bigger one off it. No matter where he's played.
"In the pre-season last year, he trained the house down and he sort of went through a run of bad luck. He had plenty of injuries, the poor kid broke his hip which is near unheard of," Eels prop Danny Wicks said.
"The kid can play, it's pretty evident. He has his head on his shoulders and humble is probably an understatement. I'm stoked he's doing so well."