Injection of youth keeps Soliola on his toes
He might have over 10 years of first-grade experience in Australia and the UK, but Iosia Soliola admits he's still learning things from his younger teammates at the Canberra Raiders.
The 30-year-old is in his third season in the nation's capital after a five-year stint in the English Super League and has been a key cog in turning a flamboyant squad into a genuine premiership threat under coach Ricky Stuart.
Soliola has been a Mr Fix-It at the Raiders playing prop, back row, lock and off the bench since joining the Green Machine in 2015.
After a couple of games off the bench that saw him run for over 100 metres each time, Soliola will slot back into the second row for this weekend's clash against the Eels as cover for the suspended Elliott Whitehead.
While it should be business as usual for the veteran forward, Soliola said he was still learning things at this stage of his career from his younger teammates.
That will certainly ring true on Saturday evening when he lines up on the right edge alongside five-eighth Blake Austin, as well as Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana; the most-destructive pairing in the game.
"You've got 'Leipana' and 'Austo' there and they’ve actually helped me grow by learning new lines and stuff like that. At my age, it’s nice to still learn a few things," he said.
"For me, it’s nice to know I can be a versatile player for the boys and fill in wherever need be because I know that we've got quality players that are there and that are also playing for Mounties as well. It keeps me on my toes.
"As long as I'm there it’s a good thing. I'm just glad I can help 'Sticky' (Stuart) and the boys in that respect."
The Raiders will head into the game coming off a tense 13-12 loss to the Broncos – their second narrow defeat in Queensland this year – but Soliola said his side weren't far away from turning things around.
"Performing the way we did up in Queensland both times and not getting the result was probably a bit dejecting for us," he said.
"If we keep reflecting on what we've done and how we've lost those games, we know we're not too far off.
"We've just got to keep believing in our processes and our systems that we put in place before the pre-season and I'm sure those losses will turn into wins for us."