Vave primed for Eels debut
Parramatta Eels recruit Siosaia Vave will line up for his first game back in the Telstra Premiership this weekend after overcoming shoulder surgery in the off-season.
When the Sea Eagles withdrew a two-year extension in August last season, the 27-year-old was forced to look elsewhere but that was nothing new for Vave, who started his career at the Sharks before a stint with the Storm.
Still living in Sydney's west throughout his rugby league journey, Vave has travelled more kilometres than most players across his seven-year career so far, but the opportunity to move back closer to home also enticed the Mt Druitt junior to join Brad Arthur's side in blue and gold.
He was a shining light on the northern beaches last season averaging over 106 metres with 23 offloads and provided the Sea Eagles with some much-needed impact coming from the interchange bench, including a career-high 186 metres against the Bulldogs in Round 23.
"When I was at Manly I was still living out West doing the trek with some of the boys including Tony Satini from Penrith who signed with the Sea Eagles for a couple of years," Vave told NRL.com
"It was pretty tough with the early starts but overall it made us better getting to training with time to prepare better.
"The deal was there [from Manly to re-sign] and then it was taken off the table at the backend.
"I had to obviously look after myself and I would have loved to have stayed as I love the club and what they're about with the rebuilding phase that they're in, but it's a part of football these days [to move on].
"They pulled the deal last minute so my manager informed me that this deal [with Parramatta] was the best option moving forward."
Settling into the Eels has been the easiest transition of all for Vave, who grew up playing with some of his new teammates in the Penrith and Parramatta district of junior rugby league, and school football after attending Patrician Brothers in Blacktown.
"I've played a lot of footy with the boys here and against them like Tim [Mannah] and 'Jenko' (Michael Jennings)," he said.
"I've been around and this club is somewhere that I've fitted in straight away.
"We've got an older club now compared to some others that I've been to.
"At other clubs it took me a while because I was travelling but it does make a difference being 20 minutes down the road.
"Ronnie [Palmer] has got me in doing extras of a morning so it's comfortable not having to rush a couple more hours in travel."
With the suspension of Eels back-rower Tepai Moeroa leaving a hole in Arthur's line-up for their clash against the premiers, Vave has returned to the 17 following a successful return via the Intrust Super Premiership for Wentworthville and was adamant his best football was ahead of him.
"I didn't come here to play reserve grade," Vave said.
"I came here to hopefully start and make the 17 every week.
"I had an operation in the off-season and slowly got back with some kilometres in the legs.
"My pre-season was hampered and I wasn't able to bump heads with some of the boys too often, so I just had to go and find my feet in Wenty (Wentworthville) for a few weeks and then 'BA' (Arthur) said we will just go from there.
"BA has been really good for me this year, especially in the pre-season. He's kept me in the loop even though I've been looking after the injury.
"For me it's about trying to get off the ground quicker and last a bit longer on the field.
"When I get a few games under my belt and get fitter I'll aim to really punch the line.
"I tend to think I'm a halfback sometimes and pass the ball a bit more but if I run a bit more with intent then I'll be more valuable to the side and provide for the silky backline we've got here."
As for who the Tongan international supported in last year's grand final after spending three years in the Shire and two seasons under Craig Bellamy, he admitted to just being a neutral supporter.
"I loved that the Cronulla boys got the win last year because it was their first, but I also would have been fine with Melbourne winning again because I know how hard they work down there," Vave said.
"I was on the fence and both of them deserved to win the way Melbourne defended their line and the way Cronulla played, they completed at a ridiculous rate. It was a good game to watch as just a football fan."
Come this week though when Vave takes on his former club on Saturday night, there will be no sitting on the fence.
"Hopefully we can go out there and get the two points," he said.
"I'll be definitely cheering for Parramatta."